A certain beautiful brutality

A review of Jonathan Moon’s book Stories to Poke Your Eyes Out.

Sometimes I read a collection of short stories and it feels like a roller coaster ride that I’ve been on before. I know the twists and turns, and I can anticipate each one. I have a great time. When I’m done, I feel lighter in my feet.

Not this time.

I just finished reading Stories to Poke Your Eyes Out by Jonathan Moon.

I’m staggering away from this particular ride and I realize that not only did I not understand the twists and turns, but I’m not even sure if that WAS a roller coaster. I think that’s a completely different kind of ride. I feel as if what I really rode was something that combined roller coasters, slingshots, haunted houses, waterslides, and a boardwalk freak show, without all the jolly fun parts that help keep my stomach settled and my mind at ease.

Jonathan clearly enjoys his world-building. And it’s a rough and nasty world, where things don’t always make sense, objects talk, dogs walk, demons take disco tickets, and often there are razor blades. And there is a certain beautiful brutality.

Quite certain.

Seventeen stories:

“Heart of an Angel” — Angels have always worried me, mostly because people think they are happy things that fly around and keep you from crashing, when in fact, I suspect they would actually destroy us if they could.

“Real Love Burns” — Skin is transitory, but you still must fight for it if you want it – same as love.

“Poisoned Meat” — Why destroy the world when it’s easier for the world to destroy itself. With an elk. This is how it would really happen, by the way.

“Roadside Crosses” — I’ve driven this road. Damn! I’m sure of it.

“Conversing Doctor DeFeo” — What would REALLY happen in some of these feel-good horror movies people think they love.

“Corpse Eater” — I knew this was true the minute I read it.

“Human as a Vulture” — Sometimes we see it from the middle.

“Disasternoon” — It would star Mickey Roarke. On a good day.

“Bone Home” — Family values.

“The Man with the Zaftig Grin” — Who cares what happens AFTER your dead anyway?

“All That Glimmers Isn’t Copper” — A sledgehammer take on Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space.”

“MC Stitches” — Painful, painful music.

“Amputee Disco and the Lord of the Groove” — Don’t call it a dream unless you’re willing to wake up and pretend it isn’t real. But if you’re willing to do that, then stop reading right now. Shut up and dance.

“Soul in my Throat” — You are what you eat. (sorry – I had to say it)

“So Proudly They Crawl” — Absolutely unbelievable – and exactly what I would expect if I read about it in a newspaper. Or saw it on a TV News show. You know the one I’m talking about.

“The Self-Mutilation Blues” — I need to figure out the right kind of music to this so that I never accidentally play it.

“Temper Like a Hammer” — Some people just aren’t people anymore. The fact that we don’t always know that until it’s too late is part of the end-game of life.

“The Devil’s Bath Shack” — The best way to wrap up a deal is to be smarter than the deal. Walk out of the room with your soul.

Jonathan’s book can be located on Amazon.