Wednesday, August 27, 2014

REVIEW: you don't exist by Pablo D'Stair and Chris Rhatigan

Without a doubt, one of the best crime fiction magazines on the market is All Due Respect. It became a quarterly print and digital magazine under the reign of Chris Rhatigan and Mike Monson, both incredible writers in their own right. Now Rhatigan and Monson have brought us All Due Respect Books, "publishing down and dirty novellas, novels, and short story collections from the best writers in the genre." They've got some great books planned, including Tussinland by Mike Monson which I've already been fortunate enough to have a look at and a novella by Zelmer Pulp madman Ryan Sayles.

What's even better, their first book is already out. It's called 'you don't exist' and it is a kind of novella double feature from Pablo D'Stair and Chris Rhatigan. This is a really great idea and one that I would like to see more of. The aforementioned upcoming novella from Ryan Sayles will be part of a double feature also with Rhatigan so I assume that this will be a thing that ADR Books is doing. Like I said, it's a terrific idea and I look forward to more pulpy double features. How does this one measure up? Let's see...

"I might have been imagining the thing with these signs, I thought, but shook my head even while I did, snorting. Cigarette lit, lighter replaced, I said aloud that I didn't mean Imagining, I'd meant I might not understand how the roads worked." 

The novella begins with Pablo D'Stair's novella "bleed the ghost empty." This is an clear example of why the belief that there are no original ideas is simply false. If there are other novellas like "bleed the ghost empty", I have never read them or heard of them. It is incredibly unlike anything I've ever read and, honestly, made me kind of uncomfortable.

"I kept telling myself Okay okay okay, not just muttering, telling myself the word in sets of threes and sets of three-sets-of-three Okay okay okay Okay okay okay making a relaxation of it, a sing song."

The act of reading D'Stair's novella is like being inside someone's head during a fever dream or a nightmare. What was it about? Was it about anything? Did it make sense? Does anything? If other noir stories, like Mike Monson's Scent of New Death, are like being given a shot of adrenalin, D'Stair's novella "bleed the ghost empty" is like being force fed hallucinogens. Regardless of what followed it, this novella would be worth the price of admission alone. I don't know if I will read it again but the experience has stuck with me.

Fortunately, what follows it is Chris Rhatigan's "Pessimist." That it is written by Rhatigan should be all you need to know. The man has never gone wrong before and this is no exception. It is starkly different from D'Stair's novella and some might say it is more fun, but it is excellent both as a companion piece and on its own.

"The guy in the aisle seat, who hadn't said anything the whole flight, slapped Pullman on the shoulder, said, 'Man, the way you looked, I thought we were all gonna die! Ha ha! Ha ha!' He laughed like an asshole. 'You going to be all right there, buddy?'"

Rhatigan's novella is funny and dark, much like other things that I've read from him. It deals with a man in over his head. As the title might suggest, he is pessimistic and incredibly on edge. His situation is not an easy one for anyone but our protagonist is exceptionally ill-equipped to deal with it.

"He wanted to buy one of those awful, enormous vehicles, one that said, Fuck you, other cars. Fuck you global warming. Fuck you, traffic laws."

If you are a fan of good pulp fiction, Pablo D'Stair, Chris Rhatigan, or All Due Respect, you owe it to yourself to go and buy "you don't exist." It is an incredible double feature of insecurities, , insanity, and suspicion. I eagerly await all future releases from ADR Books if this first release is any indication of the sort of things they will be doing. This is a publisher to watch, folks. As I have said many times, we are living in a golden age.

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