David James Keaton
Fish Bites Cop!
Comet Press, 2013
What the stories by David James Keaton resemble, it is the feeling as if someone shouts something right in your face. And the shouts are not the most pleasant thing. This collection of short stories are hard to read because as a first reaction to the outcry in the face is to step back and look away, though, and you can shout something in return. But just as the reader is essentially a passive person, he can not to answer with the cry.
To not have laid ears, you’d better read Fish Bites Cop! in small portions. Keaton has gathered numerous short stories in his collection, all written over the past few years. All the stories to a more or less degree are against the authorities (and here, in addition to the cops, it is firefighters and paramedics, too), variety of genres collected here is a matter of respect. There is horror, crime, what is called weird fiction, pure realism.
Variety of genres should not confuse you in this: Keaton is experimenting not only with the plots, but mostly with style. If the short stories to cut into individual components and see what can be called a plot, we will not find there anything radically new. Humbled and humiliated student kills his school coaches. Up to his neck into debt because of a woman, a casino dealer is planning to cheat the casino, where he works, for a small amount of money. A gang of degenerates keeps surviving remnant of a small town off the water. If Keaton did not experiment with the delivery of these plots, more than half of included pieces would hardly deserve the reader's attention. But Keaton juggles stylistic devices and has thereby attracts attention to his prose. And when Keaton-fantasist and Keaton-stylist find each other, and then we have unusual, weird, amazing stories, like «Queen Excluder», «Schrödinger's Rat» or «Third Bridesmaid from the Right».
However, the same experiments sometimes harm the stories, even to complete unreadability. Keaton can be turned the wrong way, and a story, which already consists almost entirely of dialogue, becomes a mere chatter about nothing. Keaton also utilizes part of the ideas for several time, so that you can find almost the same monologues in different stories. A number of stories are half-baked in general: these are the rudiments of ideas that need more polish and editing. Bumping into weak stories in the book, you come to the conclusion that it was necessary to filter stories better. Weak stories smeared overall positive impression about the book and the author.
And it is so hard, of course, when someone shouts in the face without stopping.