Absinthe - Jack Ketchum, Tim Lebbon Dear Holy Diary,

Please never let me reach the point in my career when I feel that I must validate myself as a "literary" writer by producing overwritten, pretentious claptrap. Please let me always find contentment in being the best at whatever it is that I truly am - and if that's simply a pulpy horror writer of dubious literary merit, then may I accept my fate with grace.


Two stories here:

"Papa", by Ketchum, is the stronger of the two, and is only ten pages long. A man is mistaken for Hemingway and invited back to a guy's apartment to partake in some absinthe. This literary tale likely holds little of interest for the average Ketchum fan as it has ZERO horror/weird tale elements, but at least it feels honest in its telling. Ketchum has a strong sure voice, and I fault him not a bit for whatever inspired him to write this tale that would be right at home in the pages of the New Yorker magazine.

"Bleeding Things" by Lebbon is a different matter entirely. It absolutely reeks of desperation, and I can picture the author wearing a t-shirt that says "take me seriously!" in a big bold font across the chest. Some would say it's beautifully written, and if your aspirations as a reader involve a trip down Erudite Lane then you might not mind perpetuating the fraud on display here. The language is flowing and beautiful at first glance, but it doesn't take long for the baroque facade to disintegrate into the gaudy and garish. This confused tale of war-torn Berlin, a woman who drinks absinthe and bleeds gold, strives for the sublime and achieves the absurd.