Saturday, November 18, 2017

Book Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Strange Weather by Joe Hill
Hardcover, 432 pages Published October 24th 2017 by William Morrow

I was not shy about my feelings on Joe Hill's last book The Fireman. While it had moments early and late the middle of the book was so bad to me I considered it my biggest disappointment of the year. I loved the concept and I am a Joe Hill/ King family fan so believe me I wanted to like the book. I just couldn't.

So I am very excited to say Strange weather is an excellent collection that carries on his fathers tradition of the four novella collection that started with Different Seasons and done so well recently in Full Dark No Stars.

That is the last time I will mention the family I promise. Hill is a fantastic writer who crafted four novellas that were very much in his voice. One of the things I really dig about these novellas is they are all three pretty different in style and they don't really compare to anyone else. That is really cool aspect of the book. Each novella is very different and has their own strengths. the first and third novellas are a bit more experimental and all of them are interesting.

"Snapshot"is excellent piece. I first read it in the Joe Hill issue of Cemetery Dance magazine, and something even cooler is he said in the notes he started hand-writing in Portland 2013. Cari, my buddy Ivan and I went together to see that event at Powell's so that was neat. I think the title changed from Snapshot 88, it is a somewhat experimental mystery that takes the narrative and wraps it around a story about dementia. What is cool is as the characters spiral into insanity the narrative loses it's form and becomes more and more strange. Well done.

The second novella "Loaded" is a very political story about guns. In many ways it has a Crash like feel with many stories that seem unconnected weaving together. It was surprisingly well plotted for a writer who openly disdains outlining, and said he hand wrote the first drafts in the novel. The main character is a unlikable dude, a gun nut mall security guard who appears to have ended a mass shooting and declared a hero. there are just a few problems, he has a restraining order from his ex, and the shooting appears to have some unexplainable moments.

This novella is really well written but I suspect conservative readers will not enjoy the point of view.

The third novella is in a sense is the title novella. I mean it is called "Afloat" but if any story is about Strange Weather it is this one. I have a feeling this one will divide readers. certainly it is the most bizarro story and least marketable concept. Personally I found this one to be solid - pun intended. The story of a skydiver that moves back in forth in time during the narrative and gets progressively more surreal as it goes on. There are plenty of powerful moments although I do think a shorter short story version might have been even more impact.

The last novella "Rain" is up my alley as it is a weird post apocalypse story and come to think if it it is a fitting for the title as well. It is about a storm that hits Colorado. The main character travels across the landscape with the mission of informing her father in law that her partner is dead. This is is a darker than dark story that for me was far more impacting in it's short pages that all of Hill's last novel "The Fireman"

Over all I enjoyed this collection, I think it is a must read for Hill or King fans. Joe Hill does a fantastic job of expanding his voice. Big Thumbs here. For a discussion on Strange weather with fellow critic Marvin Vernon:

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