Saturday, April 28, 2012

mystic river

Dennis Lehane is a horror story writer.

Say what you will, but I've read a couple of his stories now, and about half way through this one--as my stomach rolled with a discomfort that only terrors left better unnamed can cause--when I said to myself, "self, Dennis Lehane is a horror story writer."

Lehane must dig down deep into the things that scare people, way down deep inside himself, and then drag that stuff up and onto the page. And he does it constantly. Lehane's not talking about the boogie man, a slasher that won't die, or a catacomb of vampires* descending on your town. Lehane is talking about the real stuff that could happen to any of us. The kind of things that wake you up in the middle of the night, wanting to weep.

I suppose some would say that talking about things like this is healthy. Better out than in, and all that. But man! sometimes its hard to read.

Regardless of how much they make you squirm and trigger your gag reflex, these stories are tight. Lehane can weave a very tricky story, with very real characters. Obviously he's a very observant writer, and brings that to both his character's, and his sense of place, which almost becomes a character in the story itself. The feel of these old neighborhoods, what they mean to people, and how they can influence their decisions, becomes a critical part of the storyline. Mystic River is no different.

I may take a break from Lehane for a while, but not forever. Lehane is too a good a writer for me to give up on. Its just too dark down there where he's writing for me.

Yeah, read this book.

* Yeah, that's my collective noun for vampires. Whachu think?

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