All Hallows Read (Day 10) – The Crawling Abbatoir

Re-released this year as an ebook, Martin Mundt’s short horror collection The Crawling Abbatoir caught my eye by title alone. It is one I missed since the initial release in 1999. Thanks to twitter, and John Everson (author of our current book club pick, Violet Eyes) having written the introduction and designing the 2013 edition I’d have likely not run across it anytime soon. So, don’t make the same mistake I did. Pick this one up for All Hallows Read.

crawlingabattoir-500To praise ‘DWF’ and ‘My Love Is A Dead, Dead Rose’ would be nearly narcissistic. He writes like I think in these stories, so he hit a real vein with me right away. The rest of the collection is humorous horror and I am sure many will find the two aforementioned stories funny, but I was actually creeped right the hell out by them. Being a follower of serial killer and cannibal news may be getting to me. There are people out there that think like that! There have been for centuries! There likely have been people posting intimate personal ads looking for corpses! BUT GETTING RESPONSES!!

Yikes!

So, the rest of the collection is creepy and ooky and funny and spooky and a great laugh as much as it is full of terrible dark thoughts and raucous gore. I’d give this book to the class clown with the sick sense of humor. If you thought The Human Centipede was a comedy, you may like The Crawling Abbatoir. It would also make a perfect gift for the academic in your life that takes their horror far too seriously. This is what Lovecraft and Poe read in the outhouse, no doubt.

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The Cranston Gibberer – Martin Mundt

Lovecraftian wordplay meets a rather mundane topic or two. Will this be a wonderful study in homage to the master, or a wordy illustration of a good attempt? A look at the synopsis:

Transformed from mild-mannered author to terrifying BEAST-MAN!

Join X on his unbelievable journey from HUMAN to INHUMAN, from OBSCURITY to FAME, from GENTILITY to DEPRAVITY, the journey of all NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLER LIST authors.

SEE! TWO-FISTED ACTION!

SEE! SUITS BEING CUSTOM TAILORED!

SEE! FLOOZIES AND FISH-LIKE CASHIER GIRLS!

Experience THRILLS, CHILLS, and BLOOD-CURDLING TERROR!

Experience THE CRANSTON GIBBERER!

NOW! For the first time ANYWHERE!

Printed in the miracle of WORD-O-VISION!

I understand the idea behind marketing this chapbook-length story this way, it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. The author writes as “H.”, addressing the 3 letters that comprise the book to the character “X.” Many words are fully capitalized, this is done for emphasis on those select words – as was often the case when writing by hand.

The story itself plays out over three parts, with each letter forming the contents of one part. The first letter is monotonous and mundane, outlining the character as a creature of very peculiar habits. Mundt gives a brief introduction of the terror that is to come later, towards the end of this letter.

The second letter outlines H’s desire for a particular new suit, and the lengths that he will go to attain what he wants. We are introduced to H’s new personal tailor, who is as meticulous and peculiar as H is. Once the suit is acquired and H has donned his new garment, we meet the creature. Mundt doesn’t give us a proper glimpse at the creature, using only its breath, talons and screeching to create the fear. The letter ends with H once again describing his love/hate relationship for his new suit.

The third letter completes H’s descent into madness in a rather spectacular fashion. He begins research on a new writing project, where he once again encounters the creature, which at this point has a name. This encounter is prolonged until H is seemingly trapped, until he begins writing. He then witnesses a complete impossibility, and the letter is cut off – the narrative picked up by X.

This book is so grandiose in its verbiage, it seems improper to use common language to describe it. There truly is only one character, H, and he is thoroughly developed and denigrated over time. The plot seems to ramble and lose focus at times, but this is due to the character’s waning sanity rather than a literary weakness. There isn’t much gore to speak of, your imagination will help fill in the creature’s visage while Mundt handles the rest with ease. Overall, the beginning narrative was at times difficult to latch onto, however the latter two-thirds of the book are compelling enough to keep the reader until the end.

THE CRANSTON GIBBERER is available from Bad Moon Books, and more information about Martin Mundt can be found at his website.