Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Book Review: Sheep and Wolves By Jeremy C. Schipp

Sheep and Wolves by Jeremy C. Shipp
Raw Dog Screaming Press, 161 pages

I almost never have trouble finding the words to describe a book that I loved but Sheep and Wolves is one that presents me with a challenge. I could do what almost every other review of the book will do. I’m sure they’ll tell you have strange this book is but strange just is not strong enough of a word.

There is no moment reading this collection where you feel grounded in reality. For some readers this will be a huge turn-on or turn off. The atmosphere of SAW maybe surreal but I don’t want to give an impression that Shipp doesn’t bring very real unsettling moments he just does it differently than most horror writers.

Conventional horror wisdom is that you create characters and situations that the reader can relate to build suspense from there. Most of the horror in this collection doesn’t come from moments of suspense slowly rolled out against our characters. Shipp creates a horrific ecosystem of surreal prose that the characters have to inhabit.

Short but sweet tales with no wasted words Shipp tightly weaves each story together like a really tight basket. The opening story I took to be an exploration of patriarchy but here is the thing – I am not sure about that. That is not a slight on Shipp, he has created several stories that could and probably are interpreted in various ways.

My favorite stories in the collection were “Those Below, Long Metal Sigh and American Sheep.” I recommend this book for fans of dark surrealist fiction. If realism is crucial to your reading experience you’re not likely to get what Shipp is offering. I hope you are looking for it because he deserves your attention.

Readers of my blog would probably be interested to note that Jeremy is a vegan.
I reviewed his novel Vacation in 12/07 here on the blog. So check out that review/book as well.


Cormac Brown said...

I'm not even into Bizzaro Fiction, but I appreciate Shipp's surrealism and his almost lyrical prose.

David Agranoff said...

Well he has a style all his own. Lyrical is a good way to describe it.