Book: The Membranous Lounge
Author: Hank Kirton
Type of Book: Fiction, strange fiction, short story collection
Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Well, the content is different enough from bizarro and straight-forward horror that I have a hard time defining it. Moreover, Jim Rose wrote the intro, so that in and of itself was likely going to be enough to label this book odd.
Availability: Published by Paraphilia Press in 2010, you can get a copy here:
Comments: This book showed up in my post office box one day. No e-mail preceded it, no note accompanied it, and I threw away the envelope before I determined who exactly sent it. I looked at the chimp on the cover, found myself in a disturbing eye lock and then put it at the end of the umpteen books I needed to tackle before I could, in good conscience, read it. When I finally picked it up again, I sort of dreaded reading it.
It was completely irrational because by the second story, I was hooked. These stories have a gritty, dusty desperation. They evoke a smell redolent of smoke, from both cigarettes and raging fires. They are deceptively simple, several packing a punch in the gut using the most basic of prose. These stories are about situations that I have never experienced yet somehow they seemed familiar to me. They are stories about hallucinations achieved through illness and drugs, and in this book there is little peace even as the writing is hypnotic and calm.
Kirton really does seem familiar to me even though his writing is not like any particular style I have encountered. There is something about his stories that reminds me of the kids who used to hang around behind the house I used to live in near the University of Texas, the old drunks who told me stories outside the food co-op, the blunted headcases who would hang out in Half-Price Books when it used to be on The Drag. For whatever reason, these stories captured a part of my memory, a time in my life about ten years ago, triggering parts of my memories that weren’t actually present in the stories. I wonder how many other readers might be affected this strange way, having completely unrelated memories come to mind when reading these stories. Maybe not many, but it was quite interesting to me how Kirton’s words served as unlikely keys to certain locks in my brain.