Michael Wehunt's The Tired Sounds, A Wake was published by Dim Shores in December 2016.
Information about Michael Wehunt:
Michael Wehunt grew up in North Georgia, close enough to the Appalachians to feel them but not quite easily see them. There were woods, and woodsmoke, and warmth. He did not make it far when he left, falling sixty miles south to the lost city of Atlanta, where he lives today, with fewer woods but still many trees. He writes. He reads. Robert Aickman fidgets next to Flannery O’Connor on his favorite bookshelf.
His short fiction has appeared in various places, and his debut collection, Greener Pastures, a Crawford Award finalist, is available from Apex Publications.
Click here to visit his official website.
Information about The Tired Sounds, A Wake:
'The Tired Sounds, A Wake' explores the contours of a marriage, questioning the traditional dynamic and how it must change. As a wife and husband are each confronted by a strange, wordless visitor bearing gifts, their alternating paths test the familiar thread that is woven through the decades of every life partnership.
A REVIEW OF MICHAEL WEHUNT'S THE TIRED SOUNDS, A WAKE
Michael Wehunt's The Tired Sounds, A Wake is a dark and beautifully written weird fiction story with slow-burning quiet horror. It was published by Dim Shores as a limited edition novella (200 copies).
If there are readers out there who are not familiar with Michael Wehunt and his stories, here are a few words about him. Michael Wehunt is an author who writes literary horror and weird fiction stories. His debut collection, Greener Pastures, was published in 2016.
Because I enjoyed reading Greener Pastures and found it impressive, I had high expectations from this novella. I was pleased to notice that it met and exceeded all of my expectations, because it was a creepy and subtly weird story about an estranged relationship between a husband and a wife.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
- Lorne and Gwen Campion have marital problems and their relationship is slowly dying. Although they've been together for many years and are about to celebrate their twenty-fifth anniversary, their marriage is on the verge of falling apart, partly due to what happened at work and how Lorne destroyed one of Gwen's paintings. They've become gradually estranged and keep secrets from each other.
- Both Lorne and Gwen receive visits from a strange and sinister mime who leaves gifts. The mime appears as a male to Lorne and as a female to Gwen.
- Lorne wants to do something special for their anniversary, because he has hopes of rekindling their love and relationship. He finds a house - Decroux House - where he and Gwen can renew their marriage vows. When he visits the house, he meets an old man who tells him that they're in the business of rearranging failing things: they take what is failing and make it anew.
- When Lorne and Gwen enter Decroux House, they notice strange things. Lorne finds a letter which informs him that a decision has to be made, because one of them must stay in the house...
I found this story excellent and satisfyingly unsettling. I enjoyed the author's fluent way of writing about the happenings from two different point of views, and I was wholly captivated by his literary prose.
The characterisation is rich and detailed with an emphasis on thoughtfulness. Lorne and Gwen are portrayed in a believable way, because the author paints an achingly realistic picture of their problems, fears, dreams and hopes. He pays attention to the things they do, what they're interested in and how they feel about each other. He writes well about how Gwen doesn't want to work at their business (Campion Financial) anymore and concentrates on her paintings. He also writes fluently about Lorne's secret wish to become a novelist.
Michael Wehunt explores marital problems, bitterness and regret in an unfliching and emotionally harrowing way. He reveals in what kind of state Lorne and Gwen's marriage is and how they harbour secrets from each other. Their harboured secrets are slowly festering inside them, causing strain on their fragile relationship. The word divorce seems to hang silently in the air between them, because it has been uttered aloud by Lorne.
This novella has many thought-provoking moments that make readers think about various things related to marriage and relationships. When you begin to read the story, you'll most likely find yourself thinking about these questions: Can a dying marriage be saved? Is it possible to rekindle love and trust between two estranged people? How can you love someone without sacrificing who you are?
The use of a mime adds originality to the storyline, because mimes are not often found in weird fiction stories. In this story, the presence of a mime can be seen as a metaphor, because it fleshes out the estranged relationship and awkward silence between Lorne and Gwen.
I think that Gwen's painting, 'A Wake', will linger on the readers' minds for a long time after they've finished reading the story, because it's a disturbing painting with plenty of symbolism and a touch of the occult about it. It's nearly impossible to forget it, because it's almost like something conjured up from the subconscious depths of a disturbed mind.
Michael Wehunt writes beautiful, rich and powerful prose. His thoughtful writing is among the best you'll ever find in modern literary weird fiction, because he's able to create thoughtful and memorable stories that have a creepy and unsettling atmosphere. I like his way of blending literary fiction with weird fiction elements, because he does it well. There's something Aickmanesque about his writing style that I find deeply compelling.
The illustrations by Justine Jones are wonderful. I liked them, because they emphasised the atmosphere of the story. The cover image is perfect, because it evokes a feeling of something strange and chilling.
I consider The Tired Sounds, A Wake to be a perfect example of how darkly beautiful and rewarding modern fiction weird fiction can be at its best. It's one of those stories that gets under your skin and delivers macabre chills. It's a harrowing yet enticing reading experience for readers who enjoy thoughtfully written stories.
The Tired Sounds, A Wake is not an easy novella to find, but if you somehow have an opportunity to get your hands on it, I highly recommend reading it, because it won't disappoint you. If you can't find it anywhere, I advise you to take a look at the author's stunning debut collection, Greener Pastures, because it's one of the best collections available for horror and weird fiction fans (trust me, you'll love it).