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[personal profile] solarcat
A few weeks ago, I bought a book, either at Newbury Comics or at the Borders closing sale, but where I got it doesn't particularly matter. It sat on my shelf for a while, and then, because I've been in a book reading mood lately, I picked it up again. I started reading it during my lunch break yesterday, and kept reading in the evening until I had devoured the whole thing. It was amazing, and so, I decided I should recommend it to all of you, since many of you may agree with me.

Title: Objects of Worship
Author: Claude Lalumière
ISBN: 978-0-9812978-2-8
It's also apparently available for Kindle; I don't know about other eBook stores.

Objects of Worship is a collection of short stories, and to say they are "creepy" would be to both understate the point and misrepresent them in some ways. The author hails from Montreal, or thereabouts, so many of the stories take place in Montreal or feature Canadian characters. The characters themselves represent a broad range; women and men, varying ethnicities, varying time periods. Some are zombies. Some are superheroes. Some are gods. They inhabit our world, alternate worlds, a future where zombies farm 'fleshies' (leading, of course, to natural concern for animal rights). The stories contain a strange mixture of the erotic and the grotesque, and shies away from neither. If you like that sort of thing, you'll probably adore this book as much as I did.

It's hard to describe the stories without giving away the most intriguing parts, the parts that are the most fun to discover for yourself. I think perhaps it suffices to say that the narrative voice is fully immersed in the world of the story. When we meet George and Raymond, we are given their worldview--their happiness at their choice to adopt a fleshie child; how lovely it is to hear the sound of his screams every day. We meet Cleo and her lovers--West, Assaad, Patrice and Tamara--and their children; Sonya, and Njàbò, who might be a god. We meet the survivors of a sudden ice age. We meet Coro the lame, who dreams of flying with the warriors of the Green Blue and Brown God and so, goes on a journey across the flat earth. We meet a retired fisherman, who gets tangled up with heroes and gods after he sees a woman walk into the poisoned sea.

Every world is fully realized; they're rich and vibrant and disturbing all at the same time--real worlds full of impossible things. It is hard to do this in a novel, and I would venture even harder to accomplish in short story format, with such limited space to explore. Lalumière does it by presenting the fantastical through the lens of the mundane. Rose and Sara argue over whether Sara takes proper care of their household god. The son of a superhero fights with his brother, who cannot reconcile his religion with his powers. George and Raymond want a family.

The writing is flowing and evocative when it needs to be, and sparse when it needs to be. Some of the stories are linked together, existing in the same world. Things like stores and titles of comic books connect them, and there are more subtle connections as well. Despite the broad range of the book, it remains a cohesive whole, suitable to curl up with and read straight through, though the short story format allows the reader to take it in bite-sized chunks or skip around at leisure.

If you enjoy comic books, mythology, Lovecraft, speculative fiction, or zombies (or, preferably, all of those), I think you'll find things to love about Objects of Worship. I found it absolutely enthralling, and it's rare anymore that I find something I put firmly into the "couldn't put it down" category. I highly recommend this book; it's a truly imaginative and unique collection.

A final note:
All of this said, it's important to note that there are elements in the book that are disturbing, possibly to the point of being triggering to some readers. Please proceed with caution. I will note for the record that there is no rape, though there is some imagery that might be considered sexualized violence (Note: it is REALLY hard to describe this book without spoiling everything...), and no graphic depictions of self-harm. There is, however, a certain loving attention to gore in some places (though always within the context of the story--there's no torture porn), and some animal harm (again, within context, but it's there). If you know you have certain triggers and would like fair warning, I would be happy to answer any specific questions either in the comments or via PM or email.


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April 2013


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