January 24, 2011

Classsics Mutilated Edited By Jeff Conner Review

Edited By: Jeff Conner
Publisher Idea and Design Works, llc
ISBN: 978-1600108303
Review by Jim Cherry
Review posted 1/24/2011

“Classsics Mutilated” is an anthology of 13 short stories that takes some literary classics and mashes them up with a twist of horror, that crosses genres, characters and the lines between them.

Mutilated is kind of a misnomer for these stories, there’s nothing mutilated or even stitched together about these stories. They’re more a fusion of genres that enhances the originals. Like alternate histories in writing a good mashup you have to have a good command of the material, balanced with a respect for the original while maintaining a sense of the irreverent about it. Hopefully, the new story, besides being entertaining will also provide a better understanding or insight into the original, and these are well written stories.

Some of the standout stories for me were:
“Death Stopped for Miss Dickinson,” which takes the literary assessment of Emily Dickinson courting death in her poetry from the figurative into the literal. Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes a story that takes the fine lacey poetics of Dickinson and creates a story worthy of Dickinson.

“Quoth The Rock Star” has Jim Morrison entering the world of Edgar Allan Poe and “The Raven” as they battle it out for possession of a soul. The author of “Quoth,” Rio Youers, writes one of the best descriptions of a Doors concert I’ve ever read. Youers interlaces Morrison’s lyrics into the prose to create effect, tone and even real power in using Morrison’s motif’s and imagery in the telling of the story and will give Doors fans a rush of recognition.

In “From Hell’s Heart” Nancy Collins has Captain Ahab from Moby Dick fused with H.P. Lovecraft. I was never a big fan of Lovecraft when he was big in the mid-70’s because he always backed away from describing the horror, but Nancy Collins takes that extra step and describes Lovecraft’s indescribable.

“Frankenbilly,” is a western homage to the B-movie. It meshes “Frankenstein” with the 60‘s classic “Billy the Kid Versus Dracula.” While successfully serving the flavor of a western and a B-movie, without degenerating into B writing.

For rock fans that want to continue in vein of “Quoth The Rock Star,” Mark Morris’ “Vicious” has Sid Vicious on tour in the U.S. meeting up with a Voodoo priestess or two, and definitely maintains Vicious’ attitude and outlook towards life.

“Twilight of the Gods” has Norse mythology going to high school and meeting the 90210 world. An apt tongue in cheek look at The Gods.

The H.G. Wells story “The Island of Dr. Moreau“ never seemed to work in concept either in Wells’ work or in the movies. But in “The Happiest Hell on Earth,” John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow have Moreau working much better when he meets up with a Walt Disneyesque Hollywood impresario.

In “Classics Mutilated” there is a quotient of fun in the stories, a joie de vive in the writing, that you can even see in titles like “Anne-Droid of Green Gables.” “Classics Mutilated” is a good for anyone who likes literature and/or horror and is looking for a little different perspective on either. A reading of “Classics Mutilated” will bring back fond memories and may even send you back to the originals.

Jim Cherry is the author of The Last Stage