You’re either familiar with this author’s previous work, or you’re not.
Most average horror/speculative fiction readers that inhabit the hallowed, stinky halls of this genre can admit to reading one, if not at least a few, of Keene’s novels, but there are a few of us who have followed his work for a long time who finally get to a piece that we aren’t familiar with, or that doesn’t tie into something else he’s done… something larger and more “labyrinthine”, for lack of a better word.
Simply put – The Girl on the Glider is Brian Keene’s best piece of work to date – something I would hate to see going unnoticed in the awards circuit. A piece this powerful deserves more recognition beyond the Keene brand, and very well could be one of the modern classics of our time.
The year is 2009, and the world’s financial and publishing sectors are in chaos. In the midst of this disarray, a burned-out horror writer finds himself haunted by a variety of ghosts, both real and metaphorical. And as the ghosts increase their attacks, his struggle to make a living quicly becomes a fight to hold on to his family – and his very sanity.
Beyond the fact that this is a stellar piece of horror fiction, the immediate labelling of it as such, I believe, is an arguable point in and of itself, and can be mostly attributed by the author’s previous work (with the exception of Urban Gothic… I didn’t like that one all that much.) To clarify, Glider is a phenomenal piece of introspective fiction, and one that embodies everything a deep, emotionally charged story should be. Keene’s contribution to the genre not withstanding, The Girl on the Glider should very well be a benchmark in contemporary, first-person narrative storytelling, as well as memoir-styled literature.
Glider starts off with the reader firmly embedded in the mind of the author, immediately feeling what he feels, and embarking on a journey into this painful episode in his past. Though most of us have been through one version of such a life event or another, the combination of these particular things (I can only assume) should have proved disastrous to anyone, at any time. In remembering that this is only a slight exaggeration of a true story, one really has to wonder how in the hell Keene managed to walk away from this alive. I’ve been through similar straits, and I know how damned hard it is to even wake up in the morning sometimes. I really have to commend this man for his perseverance. Whether it be a sadistic lust for the pain involved in being a full-time, midlist horror author, or the sheer determination to just keep on truckin’, Glider definitely serves as a testament to the man’s balls and refusal to give up.
Now, I don’t want to give readers the wrong impression here – Glider is not at all like Keene’s other work. The reason I said this is a great piece of introspective fiction is exactly what I mean. This novella is a welcome break in the storm of zombies, gods, worms, etc., that we’re used to in Keene’s literary canon. I don’t believe this piece can be included in a general discussion of the author’s artistic merit, but instead should be an example to which we can measure his potential by. Keene certainly has the charisma and chops to win over a great deal of people, but with more pieces that feel so truly personal and are so cleanly written, I believe he should definitely be able to break free of the mid-list and rise up to the challenge of mainstream genre fiction.
If what the author plans for himself holds true, we’ll be seeing a more varied Keene library in the years to come. Bizarro, Sci-Fi, and other works are on the menu for current and future fans alike, and I for one could not be more excited.
Until then, I would implore fans of Keene’s work who are looking for a breath of fresh air to check out this novella. First-time readers might want to shy away from this one until having read some of the author’s other novels, but I would definitely say that, in relation to his extensive and impressive bibliography, this is the goddamn holy grail.