Control by Ed Kurtz

Jesus, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard tell of Ed Kurtz’ little book, Control. See, I pre-read the thing, gave my opinions, slopped down a few notes on scenes, and BOOM – with a clap of m’hands and a click of the red pen… I’m all done!

Or so I thought.

Now, I never learned that this novel was picked up, mostly because I threw myself into an exile of sorts for a while, but just the other morning I read on the Faces-Book that Thunderstorm released a SWEET looking, 80 run limited edition. And as of that porn-less internet sesh, the stock was running out.

I want to believe that I’m not that kind of guy who tells you to “Go buy this book and look! here’s the link ohmygod your face is gonna melt off and the whole world will dieinabigorgyoffireandHELL if you don’t buy this book!!!” all the time, and yeah, I  seems to hold select books so close that I tend to pimp them all the way back to the stone-age. But I’m sure you’ll forgive me. This, my friends, this is definitely one of those moments.

Here, sit down by my feet, friends. I’ll tell you why (sorry for the smell):

Control, in my opinion, is one of those books that could have been written by a slew of different authors in the genre. Hell, I’ve read books and stories by Laymon, Ketchum, Vernon, Lee, Barker, Smith, King… shit, everyone in the horror genre – that read a lot like this book. What’s most important about this particular book, though, is that none of the above could have ever written it like Kurtz did.

Like I said, I read an early draft of the thing, and even then it was good. If any of you know the pain of going through a slush pile or pre-reading a first draft, you’ll know exactly what I’m saying. But the point is, Control was the kind of book that made me remember some of the legends from recent generations. Reading this calibre from an author like Kurtz, a relative newcomer to the scene, is what I consider an achievement on the author’s part.

Control follows the insect loving Leon Wasserman as he… well… read the cover copy for yourself:

Leon Weissmann is an introverted loner with no control over his life. His only joy is the menagerie of insects, spiders, and scorpions he tends to in his garage. When he acquires an illegally poached rainforest spider, he unknowingly contracts a rare strain of fungus that enables him to control people, to make them do anything he wants. As his power grows, Leon begins to abuse it until there are bodies in his wake and a coterie of brainwashed disciples under his influence. But soon Leon suspects that the thing growing inside his head may be the one with the power… It wants to come out. To reproduce. It wants to control everyone.

– Thunderstorm Books

Like I said above, this is a book anyone could write. Well, not anyone. But listen, in reading it, I found links and nods to everyone from Ketchum to Keene and all the way back to the oldies, but my favorite was the absolute Laymon-esque feel of the story. We’re talking about a completely over-the-top scenario, coupled with a total loser/underdog of a character, all spiced up with a healthy dose of deranged scenes that made anything possible on the journey from Leon to… not Leon. I don’t want to give it all away, but you’re got to think something like – James Gunn’s Slither mating with a wee bit of any Laymon book involving a heroine tracking down all dem twisted baddies.

Kurtz writes incredible and emotionally charged scenes at the right moments, no matter what the project, but Control exhibits a little bit of everything he’s played around with in his other pieces, storytelling-wise, and hones it to a perfect recipe. The opening of the novel sets readers up for a great piece of horror fiction, and then expands liberally, eventually encasing just about every sub-genre you can think of. We’re talking home-invasions-like splatterpunk themes; body-horror (think Edward Lee… and then shudder… ) revenge, Ketchum-style (I’m thinking Joyride and a touch of Cover here, folks); humiliation and torture (the sort that a lot of Laymon’s bad guys perpetrate on their victims); romance (take your pick); bizarro (especially like the NBAs I read during Bizarro week earlier this year); straight-up horror; dramatic familial fare (I HATE YOU, PARENTAL CHARACTER OF THE MOMENT type of stuff); and much more. This is a novel that touches on everything, pulls no punches, and is bound to be a crowd pleaser when it eventually comes out of the limited run and bursts on to main stage of this horror fiesta.

Shit, I want some actions figures of this one. Seriously. Control is a blast to read, and seriously stays true to what 80s/90s/and 00s era paperback fiction was all about.

Now, as of this writing, the Thunderstorm run is completely sold out, but I have no doubt in my mind that this ugly beast will rear its head somewhere in paperback or digital in the new year. It would be a crime for it not to, and I say that with all sincerity. This was definitely one of my favorite books you haven’t read this year, and I know it will be one of yours, too.

I don’t really have to say much more about this, as I think I’ve pretty much summed up how I feel about it. It may be a while, but keep your eye on wherever cyber-Kurtz is haunting these days. Just in case he drops a clue as to where you can pick this up on its next release.


1 thought on “Control by Ed Kurtz

  1. You said it, Colum (and way better that I ever could)! I was a pre-reader as well, and I really felt this belonged in the same breath as Laymon and Ketchum. I need to get me a copy so Ed can buy more beer and write more books!

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