Growing Things and Other Stories is Paul Tremblay’s most recent book. Comprised of 19 short stories, this collection is nothing short of hypnotic. It will resonate with you long after the last page has turned. This book has, for lack of a better word, a bonus feature—notes. A select few stories have notes on how the stories came to be. A story-behind-the-story. I love that! It makes me appreciate what went into the mall the more.
No story in here is anything short of good. But, like anything, we all have our favorites. Here are my five (spoil-free) favorites:
Growing Things: We get to revisit two characters from A Head Full of Ghosts—Merry and Marjorie. Tremblay paints a picture of an apocalypse brought upon us by vine things. They are anything but docile. The thought of the what-if factor results in nightmares that force their way down my spinal cord and branch out to every part of my body—slowly choking away my life and hope.
Something About Birds: This was my absolute favorite in the collection. Not only that, it’s one of my favorite short stories EVER. It delves into the world of the indie horror community, its authors, and how its fan base can become suffocating and obsessive. It explores what a blogger of that community would do to capture his fifteen minutes of fame and, possibly, add his own stamp to the mythos of an old cult classic short story.
This story should be studied in future weird-fiction lit classes. Is that a thing? If not, get on it… someone get on it and make it a thing.
A Haunted House Is A Wheel Upon Which Some Are Broken: A fun choose-your-own-adventure. First featured in Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories. I only wish this adventure was longer! I enjoyed it so much that the different options still run through my mind.
Notes From The Dog Walkers: The notes, basically being a mixture of a few voices we all face at one point or another:the praise, the suggestive, and the pretentious critic. Every writer faces this (some more than others). The pretentious critic is always the worst. The Bitch. The one you want to shoo away, but can’t stop but listen to for just one more line. The mind does not have a devil and angel. It has many demons telling you all the bad you do with occasional nice words of sweetness to keep its grip held tightly. The writing is so believable that if Tremblay said he simply transcribed real notes, I’d believe it.
The Thirteenth Temple: This was the last story in the lot. Like the first story, it involves the same two main characters—Merry and Marjorie. We get to see what both parents are like in this one. The atmosphere and social interactions are nothing shy of strange. But it’s perfect for a weird fiction collection.
This collection was well paced. At no point did I feel like one story led into another jarringly. At no point did I feel disappointed. If you like weird fiction, then this is without a doubt the book for you. It may even get you a new favorite author, as it did me. ~ by Patrick R. McDonough
Review by Patrick R. McDonough