Glimpses behind the Veil: Thomas S. Flowers’ THE HOBBSBURG HORROR
I imagine every writer feels at times that they are an amalgamation of all the writers they have read and admired. Most often, our work feels like an echo; we hear other voices coming from the page. Gradually, with dedication and brutal honesty, we begin to write words we recognize as our own. It is difficult, and often painful, to put ourselves out in the light for others to see, examine, and criticize. Sometimes, it can even feel like a kind of suicide to bare our throat, and our innermost frailty, to the monster. We wait to be devoured or vindicated.
Horror writers feel this even more keenly. True lovers of the genre understand Horror is not just monsters, gore, and murder. Horror is a brave and insane exploration of everything within us, within others, and in the world that breaks us down into the primal beings we still are at our core. Horror is not always dark and ugly. Sometimes love and hope can terrify us, and sometimes what is hideous can be sublime. At the end of Horror we have lost, but if we survive, we are tenacious.
Reading THE HOBBSBURG HORROR, I hear Thomas Flowers’ voice. I can see his influences, mostly because they are mine too, but I hear HIM. Underneath the supernatural in this story collection are real ghosts and demons. War, parenthood, addiction, guilt, lust, and identity are known intimately by many. Some experiences and feelings are too raw or beyond the pale to be spoken plainly. We cover them in fiction like code so others will recognize but we won’t be destroyed in the delivery. Some things are too poisonous to carry inside undiluted. We read Horror to find the code, to find a translation for things beyond our understanding.
The two stories “They Came To Gordium” and “Are You Hungry Dear?” deal with past sins that hunt us down and how we finally accept our fate. It doesn’t matter how far we run, or how much we try to atone — payment is due.
“Immolate” and “Hobo” are my two favorites. They are the starkest and feel the most original. The imagery in both stories felt raw and visceral.
The title story felt like a love letter to Lovecraft. And we all love Lovecraft.
I can see myself in “The Neon Fortune Teller.” I am a secret hoarder of tarot cards and sometimes carry them with me….
“Sunnyvale Wolves,” “From The Sea,” and “Nostos” all feel like satisfying nuggets of weirdness.
Short stories are my favorite form of fiction. I love a good novel, but a short story is a straight-to-the-brain shot of what a thing or who a person truly is. When I was young, I often felt moments where the facade of the world slipped away for a moment, and I would catch a glimpse of the real world underneath. That is what a short story is, a brief glimpse into the underneath of things. I finished Thomas Flowers’ THE HOBBSBURG HORROR, seeing a slightly different color in the world, and I think anything that affects you even after you walk away is rare.