Resisting Madness: Wesley Southard
Reviewed By Brian Bogart
I think this might be my first exposure to Wesley Southard (if one doesn’t count his many appearances on The Horror Show with Brian Keene and numerous online videos/streams)… and I may have read something in a previous collection. Either way, this collection serves as a great introduction to him as an author and his particular brand of weird and grotesque.
First off, I do have to say I enjoy the way that Southard writes dialogue, not to mention his dark sense of humour. While some readers may find that there could be room to improve in some regard, I have met people that talk like this. Whether it is the vulgar, annoying side character or the bat-shit insane archetype, Southard seems to have spent a lot of time listening… and not just to those voices in his head.
What kind of madness lurks between the pages?
You have turbulent airplane creepiness, home invasions, weird fiction that borderlines on absurdist (proving that the absurd can be even more frightening than the explained), just for starters. Many of these are the quasi-guilty pleasure types of stories that I would love to see the great Joe Bob Briggs introducing late night.
All of these stories offer some down and dirty horror, alongside some gross punchlines to accompany the usual punches to the gut.
The last piece, a novella from which the anthology derives its name, is a look into the life of a creative and well-respected filmmaker in the horror genre slowly unravelling, and everyone around him paying the price for his inability to cope with it all. Not just with the control of horrors he created onscreen being wrestled from him, but his very own offspring. At first, you really do feel for the protagonist and the love for his son, in spite of everything around him. But as thoughts of revenge take hold, one father’s love and compassion is twisted for his own selfish gain.
Bonus points to Southard for having author notes for each tale, too. As someone who writes, I always love to see notes on where the stories originated. It also helps the reader watch his style become more honed and the author become more comfortable in not just having a fun idea, but shaping it into something more.
Also, Southard has a penchant for the splatterpunk stuff. I’m a sucker for a good gore scene, and when led into said set pieces by some relatable (even if, sometimes, deplorable) characters- when the shit hits the fan, it makes it a pleasure to not duck the entrails heading straight for you, but to lift your head up high and let the blood splatter where it may.
That previous sentence was fun to write, just like the stories in this collection.
Dare you look into the eyes of madness?
Trust me, it’s better if you look yourself than having it forced upon you. Just ask the poor characters in this collection… if the dead could speak, anyway.
Keep dreaming darkly, Wesley Southard. Resisting Madness is an entertaining, bloody mess.
What drives a man mad?
Maybe it’s the death of a loved one…or the petrifying fear of hands around your throat…the dread of rejection…or maybe it’s the black, soulless eyes of a child that shatters your sanity…
Within these pages, delirium reigns supreme. You’ll discover how far a prisoner will go to be with his dying wife, and what lurks between the walls of that Louisiana jailhouse to keep him there. You’ll find out how deep a man can cut himself to dig out the past. You’ll meet a college professor whose fear of flying might be the least of his worries. And you’ll learn how a sister’s love for sweet treats can reunite a broken family…whether they want it or not.
Aliens and lot lizards…disembodied lips…the voice of God Himself…
Thirteen stories and a brand new novella from horror author Wesley Southard.
Within these pages, we all go a little mad…
Brian Bogart is an American author, residing in Northern Ireland. His love of genre fiction started at an early age, consuming every horror and fantasy book available. He has been published in various degrees online and contributed a short fiction piece, “TOCSIN”, to The One Million Project (OMP) Thriller Anthology in an effort to raise money for cancer research and the homeless. He loves to share his enthusiasm for the horror genre with others and help promote other authors.
His latest story, alongside many other authors, can be found in the pages of EPIC FANTASY SHORT STORIES, coming soon from Flame Tree Publishing.
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