Genre Horror Anthology Publisher Dybbuk Press Year Published 2007 Review Posted on 11/12/2007 Reviewer Rating
1 out of 10
God Laughs When You Die, by Michael Boatman
Reviewed by Adrienne Jones
If you've read this book, why not
Michael Boatman can string words together. The question is, should he? God Laughs When You Die is a heinous little collection of short stories that manage to both confuse and disgust. His style, if that's what you can call it, is all over the place, and never seems to decide what it wants to be.
The biggest let down is not that these stories are the suckiest bunch of suck that ever sucked, but that the concepts start out incredibly clever. In a world where horror fiction regurgitates the same old themes, Boatman seems to take great pains in finding a unique story angle. His ideas; a demonic obese child on a daytime sleaze show, killer mermaids, extraterrestrial microorganisms, intrigue and draw you in...but then he drops the ball in a pile of dog crap.
Boatman writes like a hyperactive nine-year-old with attention deficit disorder, seeming to lose track of where he was halfway through the story. It's as though he loses patience with his own storytelling skill, distracted by a shiny puddle of intestines or otherwise opulent gore, which he then gleefully splashes all over the story, whether it makes sense of not. Ears are ripped off; murdered women come back from the dead, drug dealers dish out sexual torture, none of which are particularly over the top plotlines for a horror story. But Boatman's delivery feels forced, scraping the bottom of the grubbiest barrel he can find with every character, bit of dialogue, and choice of plot progression, going for shock without style.
If there is a positive comment to be made about this collection, it would have to be said that Michael Boatman shows 'promise' as a writer. But for now, he simply promises a good story then doesn't deliver. Perhaps Boatman needs Ritalin, or perhaps he's simply having fun slinging mud pies all over his half finished canvases and stomping on his own sandcastles. There are worse things.
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Comments on God Laughs When You Die, by Michael Boatman
Posted by crystalwizard on 11/26/2007
I'm not overly impressed with the review, especially since the reviewer seems to have gone out of her way to blast the author. Makes me wonder if she has something against him personally.
Posted by Bill Ward on 11/26/2007
Is it not possible to give a negative review without such mean-spirited and crass attempts at humor at the author's expense? I suggest that there are better ways to communicate a point than comparing an author to a hyperactive child, and such invective completely undermines whatever legitimate criticism may be presented here.
Posted by Jim Stratton on 11/29/2007
Sorry, but I fail to see how this is a review. A review is supposed to be about the stories, not the author. I don't care what the reviewer's opinion of the author is, that's immaterial. I want to know about the stories. And this review does not provide this.
Posted by Pete on 12/1/2007
Actually, in response to the last comment, reviews (on this site) are supposed to be about the book -- and this one does in fact let me know what I need to know about this book, giving me some info on what the stories are about in the second and third paragraphs -- I don't need a play by play -- and then telling me this a badly written book. The reviewer is telling you exactly what to expect from this book -- her comments are about the writer's style.
In response to other comments -- the manner in which this is done is up to the author of the review, but I don't see anything mean-spirited in this review. Frustration from the reader/reviewer? Sure. Check several of our other reviews -- it can be frustrating to read a book with good ideas and poor execution.
Posted by Cal on 2/7/2008
This review DOES talk about the stories, you nitwits, and the style of the collection. A reviewer can hate a book without having a personal vendetta against the author.
Posted by Adrienne on 2/14/2008
Wow! There's a lot of love in this room. This is my review, and someone just alerted me to these comments. Normally I'd ignore them, but this was a unique case. After reading this book, and obviously not liking it, I contacted the publisher and offered to use my own money to mail the review copy back, as my review would only be one star, and that wouldn't serve any purpose for anyone. The publisher asked me to go ahead with the review, and that if I was going to make it bad, to make it over the top, because often a scathing review can garner as much attention as a good one. clearly, Tim knew what he was talking about, as evidenced here. So no, I do not have a 'vendetta' against the author, I don't know him and had never read his work before this.
Posted by Christopher on 7/25/2012
I would have taken this review seriously if it didn't include ridiculous quotes as "suckiest bunch of suck that ever sucked", somehow manages to fit it dog crap and compares the writer to a 9 year old with ADD. Towards the end it shows that the reviewer does have a lot of writing skill and knows what she's talking about but a review completely loses its legitimacy when it includes nonsense terms as I said above.