J.R. Hamantaschen's A Deep Horror That Was Very Nearly Awe was published in September 2018.
Information about J.R. Hamantaschen:
J.R. is a part time fiction writer. His work has appeared in several dozen magazines and anthologies. Generally disdainful of publicizing himself or his work, he has published intermittently, never maintained a personal website, and changed his surname frequently over the years. His debut short story collection, You Shall Never Know Security, was published in 2011.
Information about A Deep Horror That Was Very Nearly Awe:
J.R. Hamantaschen’s third collection of short stories delivers more inimitable dark fiction. These are eleven tales of macabre horror, filled with estrangement, honor, wonder, terror, delusion, pity, desperation and perseverance.
REVIEW: A DEEP HORROR THAT WAS VERY NEARLY AWE BY J.R. HAMANTASCHEN
J.R. Hamantaschen's A Deep Horror That Was Very Nearly Awe is the author's third short story collection. It's a wonderful companion to his previous collections (You Shall Never Know Security and A Voice that is Often Still Confused but is Becoming Ever Louder and Clearer), because it's a fascinatingly dark and rewarding reading experience that offers readers intelligent and impressive dark fiction stories.
A Deep Horror That Was Very Nearly Awe shows how much J.R. Hamantaschen has developed as an author, because he has matured and writes more confidently than before. Each of the stories in this collection is "something different", because he has original ideas and he is not afraid of touching upon themes of isolation, loneliness and death. He boldly explores the lives of his characters and reveals their fears and hopes to readers in a stunningly effective way and avoids easy resolutions and predictable outcomes.
In this collection, the author delivers his readers memorable visions of relationships, family ties, friendships and tragedies, and also observes the human condition and human nature from an enticingly bleak and skewed angle. I was impressed by his effortless way of writing about what happens to the characters and what they have to go through, because nothing felt preachy or underlined (there's quite a lot of psychological depth in this collection).
This collection contains the following eleven stories:
- Rococo Veins and Lurid Stains
- No One Cares But I Tried
- That's Just the Way Things Are These Days
- Bleecker and Bleaker; or, Gay for Muesli
- 7099 Brecksville Road, Independence, Ohio
- Upon a Path Suddenly Irradiated at Some Halfway Point by Dayreams as Rich as Hers
- I've Read With Some Interest About...
- Faithfully and Lovingly
- Story Title Revealed About Halfway Through
- A Gob of Minty Spit in the Sink
- I Will Soon Be Home and Never Need Anyone Ever Again
I enjoyed reading all of these stories, because they're exactly the kind of dark fiction that captivates me. I especially enjoyed their bleak atmosphere, because the author has infused his stories with a sense of distinct bleakness, isolation and disquietness.
One of the best things about these stories is that the author examines the lives of the characters in a surprisingly honest and fresh way by writing about their feelings and deeds. Dark thoughts and sinister deeds can be found in them, because the characters' lives are not easy.
In these stories, everyday situations turn into something else and the author forces his readers to serve as witnesses to the unfolding events that push and stretch the limits of normality powerfully towards weirdness. Disturbing, unsettling and unpredictable elements are handled well in them.
I found the diversity of the stories fascinating. They contain elements that range from ghosts and mental issues to psychic powers and monsters, and they have plenty of creativity, imagination and surprises. Some of the things explored in them are achingly realistic and serious while others are more entertaining and imaginative.
Here's a bit of information about the stories and my thoughts about them:
Rococo Veins and Lurid Stains:
- A story about Kristen who wants to die and thinks about killing herself.
- The author writes vividly about Kristen, her feelings and her fascination towards death, because he explores how Kristen feels about living and dying.
- One of the most intriguing things about this story is that the author writes about how a person who is about to commit a suicide can give her/his life force to another.
- This is one of the best and most memorable stories I've read this year, because it's something different and thought-provoking. I was impressed by this story's tender brutality and emotionally harrowing atmosphere.
No One Cares But I Tried:
- A story about half-Vietnamese Carol who works for a design and marketing firm. One day, she begins to hear disturbing thoughts in her head that are targeted at her.
- The descriptions about Carol and her situation are intriguing and unsettling, because the author writes about how Carol feels about what is going on and what happens to her. Carol's desperation is perfectly conveyed to the reader.
- This is a well written story that will make readers think about things concerning work place environment, co-workers and bosses.
That's Just the Way Things Are These Days:
- In this story, Nathan and Sara are about to have sex for the first time.
- The author writes excellently about what Nathan feels when he's about to have sex and what kind of thoughts go through his head. He tells of Nathan's fears and thoughts in a surprisingly honest yet emotionally brutal way that is difficult to forget.
- There's something in this story that slightly reminds me of Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach, but this story is *much* darker.
- This is one of my favourite stories in this collection.
Bleecker and Bleaker; or, Gay for Muesli:
- A story about Ken who becomes friends with a gay guy called Kaz who works at a coffee shop.
- It was intriguing to read about what kind of a friendship Ken had with Kaz, because they got along well and enjoyed each other's company despite being different and having different backgrounds.
- This is an excellent story with a dark undertone that will make you think about friendship and life in general. It's a story that invites you to explore the friendship between the protagonists and touches you in a strangely effective way.
7099 Brecksville Road, Independence, Ohio:
- In this strange story, Ormond puts his terrifying creations into the stalls of truck stops and gas stations that have inspiring names.
- I won't write anything more about this story in fear of writing major spoilers, but I'll mention that this story is one of the best monster stories I've read in ages, because it's wholly original.
- If you love monster stories, you'll be impressed by this story, because it something different and memorable.
Upon a Path Suddenly Irradiated at Some Halfway Point by Dayreams as Rich as Hers:
- A story about Barbara who notices a strange crack in the wall. One day, strange wires fall out of the wall to the floor and Barbara wonders about what they might be...
- The author writes well about what happens when Barbara calls a handyman to take a look at the wall and how things escalate from there on into something else.
- It was interesting to read about Barbara's divorce and her relationship with her daugher and ex-husband, because everything was handled well by the author.
- An excellent story with a cool touch of unsettling weirdness.
I've Read With Some Interest About...:
- A well written story about Jen who has lived three years in a building, but hardly knows any of the other people. One day, she suddenly hears a pounding on her apartment's front door...
- I enjoyed reading about Jen and what kind of observations she made about the people living in the building. I also found it intriguing how Jen reacted to the pounding and she responded to it.
- This story is very good and will impress many readers.
Faithfully and Lovingly:
- A story about Brian and Katie who face an unexpected and horrifying moral dilemma.
- It's great that this novella has been included in this collection, because it's one of the author's finest stories. This novella was already familiar to me, but it was nice to read it again.
- An excellent and memorable story that will certainly linger on the readers' minds.
Story Title Revealed About Halfway Through:
- A story about Ryan who suffers from depression and sees a therapist who uses hypnotism as a tool to help him.
- The movie theater scene in this story is simply excellent. The author writes about movie theater etiquette and how certain people act in a movie theater in an observant way.
- It was interesting to read about Ryan, because the author explored Ryan's thoughts and actions in a mesmerisingly macabre way.
- A well written and thought-provoking story that will stick to your mind.
A Gob of Minty Spit in the Sink:
- This marvellous short story tells of a man who has choked to death.
- This is the shortest story in this collection, but it's an amazing story with a bit of black humour.
I Will Soon Be Home and Never Need Anyone Ever Again:
- A story about Thomas who enjoys wandering in the woods near his house and is good at school, but has to endure bullying.
- This story has some of the best descriptions I've ever read about what life is like for a teenager who is good at school and does what is expected of him. The author writes excellently about bullying and what kind of effects it has on the person who is being bullied, because he shows its effects to his readers. He also excels at writing about friendship and loneliness.
- This novella-length story is perhaps the best and most compelling story in this collection. I was deeply impressed by this story and found it fascinating and thought-provoking.
The author's dark and a bit twisted sense of humour is one of the key things that makes this collection unique. His witty observations about various situations and his way of examining seemingly normal things from a twisted perspective emphasise the weird elements in a stunning way.
The author writes surprisingly boldly and thought-provokingly about sex and sexual situations. It's great that he doesn't shy away from sexual elements, but dares to explore them in his stories, because it adds fascination to them.
What also makes this collection unique is the author's uncanny ability to combine discomforting and entertaining elements in an effortless way. This unusual combination works perfectly.
I have a feeling that this collection will strike a chord among readers who love weird stories, because it's original, fascinating and unsettling in the best possible way and the characterisation is excellent. It's something different and mesmerising.
If you love dark fiction and modern weird fiction, J.R. Hamantaschen's A Deep Horror That Was Very Nearly Awe should be at the top of your reading list. This collection is one of the best collections available for quality-oriented readers who want to read good stories, so please, don't hesitate to read it.