Brendan Connell's Unpleasant Tales was published in April 2010 by Eibonvale Press, which is a small press run by a writer, artist and reader who loves books. Eibonvale Press publishes horror, magic realism, slipstream and surreal fiction.
Here's Risingshadow.net's review of Brendan's Connell's Unpleasant Tales.
A REVIEW OF BRENDAN CONNELL'S UNPLEASANT TALES
Earlier I wrote a review about Brendan Connell's fascinating Metrophilias and now I'll write a review of his latest collection, Unpleasant Tales, which is a fantastic and entertaining collection of weird and unconventional stories.
Unpleasant Tales contains the following stories:
- The Maker of Fine Instruments
- The Black Tiger
- The Putrimaniac
- A Dish of Spouse
- The Girl of Wax
- The Tongue
- The Skin Collector
- The Nasty Truth about Dentists
- The Nanny Goat
- Mesh of Veins
- The Flatterer
- The Last Mermaid
- The Cruelties of Him
- The Woman of Paper
- The Last of the Burroways
- The Unicorn
- Virgin Hearts
- We Sleep on a Thousand Waves Beneath the Stars
I've read lots of short stories, so I'm used to all kind of stories, but I must confess that reading these stories was a unique and unforgettable reading experience. As a long time fan of horror books and weird stories I was positively surprised when I read this collection, because it contained several fine stories, which were fresh, wild and exciting.
Brendan Connell's stories contain several different kind of elements: dark fantasy, horror, weirdness, obsessions, melancholy and decadence (and lots of other elements). Depending on the reader, Connell's stories can be called either weird dark fantasy or weird horror, but – to be honest – his stories defy easy categorization. His stories are weird, strangely beautiful and (as the title of this collection indicates) they're also unpleasant, but they're not typical stories, so categorizing them is a bit difficult. That's why I think it's enough to say that they're weird stories.
Unpleasant Tales is a versatile, decadent, perverse and well written short story collection for adult readers. Brendan Connell's stories form a disturbing, unpredictable and visceral short story collection, which differs greatly from other new short story collections. These 22 stories are shockingly beautiful and unique depictions of love, lust, gluttony and perversity. They'll fascinate you with their weirdness, but they'll also shock you with their inventiveness and explicitness.
Brendan Connell's stories aren't easy stories (you won't find easy stories in this collection). This is good, because difficult stories are more rewarding and interesting than easy stories. Some people may not like these explicit stories, but horror fans will probably love them.
There are several writers, who write explicit stories, but Connell's stories are clearly different from their stories – he writes new kind of stories, which explore hidden desires and secret obsessions of the human mind in an unusually fascinating way. Connell's prose is good and he has a good imagination, so he's able to create unique visions, which both shock and entertain the reader.
Brendan Connell's stories feature all kinds of characters from instrument makers who create living instruments to women who eat their husbands (and much more). I think it's almost amazing how well Brendan Connell reveals the obsessions of his characters to the reader. His characters feel alive, because they have different kind of desires and obsessions, which define how they act and what happens to them. "The Maker of Fine Instruments" is a good example of a story in which the main character is helpless to resist temptation and the consequences are horrifying for him (I won't tell you what happens in this story, but I can say that the last pages are shockingly disturbing).
Some of these stories aren't very long, but they don't have to be long, because Brendan Connell has an ability to write good stories. For example, "A Dish of Spouse" is a only 3-page story, but it's a brilliant story.
I like Brendan Connell's writing style and sense of decadence very much. What I like most about Brendan Connell is that he's able to write about different kind of obsessions, perversities and weird happenings without flinching (he doesn't shy away from difficult subjects). He doesn't stop where other writers would stop, but goes full speed ahead and doesn't look back. He's also able to turn a perfectly normal story to a visceral story with just a few sentences and words ("The Black Tiger" is a good example of a story, which takes an unexpected turn near the end). He also writes fluently about different places.
"The Maker of Fine Instruments", "The Putrimaniac" and "The Cruelties of Him" are great examples of weird and unpleasant stories, which were so good that I couldn't stop reading them. Although I knew that I was going to read an unpleasant story, I just couldn't stop reading it, because I had to know what happens (this kind of reaction is a good sign, because it means that I like the story).
By the way, reading all the stories at once isn't the best way to read this collection. I think it's best to read one story a time, because that way the reader will have a chance to savour all the macabre and grotesque nuances of each story. Horror fans may be able to read the whole book in one sitting, but normal readers may want to read one story at a time in order to get used to Connell's writing style.
Here's a few words about the cover art: The cover art by David Rix looks nice. David Rix has created a bit different kind of a cover image.
If you're ready to be shocked and want to read something different, you should read Unpleasant Tales, because it's full of stories, which will shock you. Be also warned that these stories won't only shock you, but they'll also make you think about things. You won't forget these stories easily.
I can recommend Unpleasant Tales to speculative fiction readers, who like intelligent, weird and well written stories. These surprising and shocking stories are ideal stories for fans of modern horror stories, because horror fans will be able to appreciate their strange beauty. I also think that readers who are fed up with conventional stories will find these stories fresh and exciting.