Friday, December 04, 2015

Book Review: FLYPAPER

Title: Flypaper
Author: CK Vile
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: 202

I found this book intriguing ever since I laid eyes on the disgustingly real image of the housefly. At close quarters, it tends to evoke a sense of disgust in me, as I’m sure it does in everyone. As Ogden Nash said, "God in his wisdom made the fly, and then forgot to tell us why.” Unless you are a spider, in which case you would naturally be pretty fond of the fly, what with it being your meal of choice.

The title was equally interesting. A flypaper is a sticky paper that proves to be the death of the fly when it lands upon its adhesive surface. You’d get the connection even more when you read the book. I don’t want to give it away here. It’s one of the most horrific themes in the book.

Nick Dawkins, a famous writer of horror books, is used to his fair share of crazed and demented fans. It is the reason why he escaped to his isolated cabin in the woods in a small town called Forest Down. 

Following a harrowing childhood, in which his mother, suffering from a condition known as Munchhausen Syndrome, repeatedly sought to poison him, Nick has serious trust issues. He only manages to live a normal life, because he has found the ability to put his horrors and nightmares into the stories he writes. Stories that command a crazy fan following and have made him a bestselling author.

After a long period of isolation and shunning social contact, Nick allows himself to be drawn on to a date with Danielle, a young artist, who is also an outsider in Forest Down. Like him, she too has had a bad childhood, and is scarred by her past. Like him, she too enjoys horror literature and the same interests in films, books etc.

The contact thrills him and Nick finds his writer’s block lifted. Suddenly it is as if the story is practically writing itself.
He likes Danielle and the feeling is mutual, or so Danielle tells him.

A day after their first date, Danielle initiates a second one. Nick invites her over to his place, and that is when things get nightmarish, as Danielle begins to show her true self. He becomes aware of the extent of her obsession and derangement. Warning signs burst in his head.

Not just Nick, even we as readers begin to feel an increasing snse of horror and disgust as we come to understand the depths of Danielle’s obsession and insanity.

I liked the author’s style of writing. It was quite unlike anything I’ve read in a long time. Real yet fast paced, guaranteed to send your thoughts into a tailspin, your pulse racing. While being unmistakably sympathetic to Nick, it still sometimes set itself at odds with him, as if it were inviting us to inspect the exhibit that was Nick.

One of the things that I liked was that this book was about a writer, and touched extensively upon the life of a writer, the process of writing, the life of isolation it often imposes, the feeling of lethargic inertia that comes upon a writer when inspiration fails, the demons that attack when the words on the page don’t do justice to those in the head, and the sweet sense of fulfillment when everything falls into place. The sponging off on life, the writing off real life experiences, all these are evident here. Some of the most incisive insights were reserved for the writing life. Inspiration was like that sometimes, a pouty toddler stamping its feet.

I loved the characterization. The isolation of the people of Forest Down, the old worldly charm of Bonnie and Chuck Littleberry, who run the local grocery store, are just as memorable in their own way as Nick and Danielle. I also like CorpseFlower, the web admin of Nick’s site. Even as she dabbles with the macabre, CorpseFlower still retains her sense of justice, which we see in the manner in which she dishes out retribution to those who break the line between right and wrong and deliberately err.

Vile also knowingly or unknowingly raises questions on the nature versus nurture debate. Both Nick and Danielle are a product of their upbringing and their parentage. Yet both react to their past in radically different ways. 

I was so impressed with this book, that at first I wanted to read the second in the series, Flypaper Opus, particularly because the blurb promised to outdo this one in every respect. 

Then I saw that that book has two flies on its cover (Incidentally, Books 3, 4 and 5 in the series show 3, 4 and 5 flies on the cover.), and I believed them. And so I changed my mind. 

There's only so much I can take.  

But do read this one if you can. Good stuff this!

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