Monday, November 15, 2010

FUNGUS OF THE HEART by Jeremy C. Shipp

A number of months ago Jeremy C. Shipp requested reviewers for his new short story collection, Fungus of the Heart. I had looked at a number of Shipp’s books before but had not had the opportunity to read one. So naturally I jumped at the chance to read this collection.

Fungus of the Heart is an intriguing collection of stories. It’s hard to classify the collection with one category. It has elements of fantasy, the bizarre, horror, crime, and drama. Some of the stories reminded me of fairy tales. There is a wide array of characters throughout: zombie bears, gnomes, clowns, boys in boxes, vampires, and ghosts, to name a few. It’s clear that some of the stories speak to current issues, such as the “moral machine” that exists.

From a personal standpoint, I was disappointed with this collection. It didn’t have much to do with Shipp’s writing ability; it is clear that Shipp is a very talented writer and has a knack for using words sparingly to efficiently tell stories. I was disappointed more with the content. The biggest issue was I simply didn’t care much for the types of stories in the collection. I’m not a huge fan of fantasy and fairy tales. And while I do enjoy some bizzaro writing, the bizarre in this collection is of a different breed than what I like. Also, at times when I was reading a story I would have a feeling of déjà vu, like I had already read it earlier in the collection. The only story that really stuck with me was the first one in the collection, “The Sun Never Rises in the Big City.”

I’m having a hard time separating my personal preferences from the quality of the work itself with this one. Clearly, Shipp is a talented writer. And I’m pretty sure I’ll read more of his work in the future. So if you’re interested in the fantastic and strange, I would recommend you check this one out. If you’re not, you may want to pass on it.

3 out of 5 stars.

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