There are those moments when we stumble into books, and writers, and we are sort of amazed we haven't previously. Either knowing of the book, but not enough, for example The Girlfriend Game by Nick Antosca, a writer and book well-known to us, and yet not someone we had ever crossed paths with, on the internet or otherwise. And then there are books like We The Animals by Justin Torres, which we had somehow never heard of, and now seems impossible given the response to it. Regarding the Antosca there were some Tweets, a dialogue, of sorts, the idea that we should read one another's work, and here we are. With Justin Torres, there was an interview, a question of animals, and here we are as well.
Which is where exactly? Well, on the face of it, we have consumed too greatly different collections. The Girlfriend Game, a gathering of stories about murder, revenge, crime, madness, and pychosexual proclivities, and We The Animals, a series of interconnected flash fictions about three young boys growing-up poor and wild to teenage parents in upstate New York. While The Girlfriend Game is taut and drenched in horror, We the Animals is near feral in its intense bursts of family instability. What they have in common though, and what makes this stumble so timely, is the pervasive sense of dread that both collections continually embrace, and ratchet-up from page to page as the reader powers through to the end. In both cases, to finish the collections is nearly a relief, as the damaged lives on the pages before us, slowly worm their way into our brains, take root, and linger there uncomfortably long after we're done.