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Four Flesh Feasts and an After-Dinner Mint, by Edward Petty Book Review | SFReader.com
Four Flesh Feasts and an AfterDinner Mint, by Edward Petty Genre: Horror Publisher: Apogee Published: 2004 Review Posted: 8/7/2005 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
Four Flesh Feasts and an AfterDinner Mint, by Edward Petty
Book Review by Phillip A. Ellis
Have you read this book?
The five short stories in this collection range in subject from obsession to the aftermath of a life blighted by violence. As a whole, they are uniform in their standards, and they are a clear step forward from the earlier "Jared's Little Playground." For the most part, they display a clearer sense of unity of emotion, and they are entertaining, if brief, reads.
The first story, "Choosing the Wine", is a story of obsession, and its somewhat messy aftermath. Its strengths lies in the way in which the esential horror of the situation arises out of the setting. It sets up an ordinary dinner between two friends, but this quickly devolves into something darker, and that darkness is adequately handled. The clear lack of moralising--thanks in part to the first-person focus--works to this story's benefit, and the reader is left feeling a frisson of revulsion at the outcome.
"Impulses" is a study of abnormal psychology. Sparing us technicalities, and needless jargon, it probes the depths to which a disturbed mind can plunge. As such, it is one highlight of this collection, and it plays towards the author's strengths. It is a very promising story, and it bodes well if Mr. Petty would consent to enriching his abilities in this field of weird literature.
"Junkie" is akin to "Impulses, in that it explores similar psychological territory. Perhaps it would have been stronger if a clearer sense of irony was developed in the story, but the story, as it stands now, is a credible read, if a tad too brief.
"Mary's Place" is, really, too diffuse in focus to work effectively. Although the focus upon Mary does build her character for thre reader, the death, and its consequences, aren't handled as effectively as possible. This means, as a result, that the psychological insights into Mary become weakened, and the aftermath of the death becomes too hastily sketched and, ultimately, unsatisfying. Working in a wider compass than the earlier stories, there is a greater potential at enriching the story, and developing an identifiable worldview, but any such opportunities are wasted here.
The final piece, "Saying Good-bye" follows on from "Jared's Little Playground". Stylistically, it is superior to the earlier novella. The story flows adequately, and it has lost the staccato quality of the earlier piece. It still has some problems with unity: more care needed to have been placed in emphasising the emotional fragility of the protagonist, yet the shock of the final encounter is adequately handled. It is just that, through hindsight, not enough work is given to adequate preparation for it, so that it remains relatively ineffective.
But it is a step forwards, in comparison to the earlier piece. This story, along with the bulk of the other pieces, bodes well for Edward Petty's future as a writer. More concentration upon mood, and practice over time, and he should become a skillful enough writer. Whether he produces work of a similar caliber is another matter: learning how to say something is one thing, determining what you need to say, as a writer, is another altogether. I wish Mr. Petty well on both counts.
Four Flesh Feasts and an After-Dinner Mint is available from ApogeePublishing http://www.apogeepublishing.com/bookstore/fiction/horror/four_flesh_feasts.html and ebooksonthe.net http://www.ebooksonthe.net/catalog/eBooks_Catalog_Horror.htmlgogo
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