Friday, February 24, 2012
BECOMING A BIG FAN OF THE KIRBINATOR
'Hidden Springs' is the second Stewart Kirby novella that I have now read and I have to now confess to being a fan. I am not, however, going to rush to visit Humbaba County where Mister Kirby sets his stories because no matter how beautifully his prose describes the place to me it is always going to be the home of over-sized bugs, fleas, aged Hippies and... well I don't want to give away too much (a good review shouldn't need a spoiler alert) but let me just say that when you read a Kirby you simply do not know what is going to be hiding around the next tree stump.
What I will comment upon is the stylish writing that Kirby transmits so slickly from mind to page. How someone can make the desecration of Mist River with a herd of dead livestock sound poetic I am not quite sure, but achieve it Kirby does. Not since my first introduction to Robert Rankin have I become so hooked on this type of series, stories linked by geography and a particular take on the world as we (don't) know it. Kirby's strength is in his players though, making even those fleetingly involved in the story's progress well crafted and believable. In 'Hidden Springs' my favourite character (and the most creepingly cringe-worthy) is Denny Holmes. This is one disturbing guy. I didn't like it that I liked him, if that makes sense. Think Renfield as played by Tom Waits in the Gary Oldman Dracula movie and you are halfway there to this twitchy, odd individual. Animal lovers are NOT going to take to this guy. Kirby weaves this guy's traits around Bret, Julie and Tim... and a rather large flea... no, not going to give anything away... however...
There is one scene where Kirby weaves his words in such a manner that we the reader are completely unsure who is the hunter and who is the prey and that to me is darn good writing. Anyone can write a 'thriller by numbers' but what makes Kirby stand out is the twists and turns that he builds and builds into his tale. Tense at times, claustrophobic at others, put the Kindle down to wipe away the tears of laughter on numerous occasion. Although very different in content, I was reminded of Asimov's Tales of the Black Widowers in terms of 'the flip' away from what is expected.
And I guess my review of Stewart Kirby and his writing comes down to that simple concept. Think what is normal, think what is expected, think what is mundane. Don't expect them here! Stewart Kirby's tales are the polar opposite. And then some!