There is one word that sums up why this collection of novellas made it on my recommended reading list: craftsmanship.
No, fuck that. Throw fresh, fun, entertaining, and memorable in there, too.
But, craftsmanship comes to mind first.
“The End In All Beginnings,” by horror vet, John F.D. Taff, is a well thought-out, finely crafted collection of stories that belong together. Mr. Taff is working with a theme here, exploring the greatest mystery facing mankind. Or it’s greatest curse. The fact that we die.
A countdown begins from the moment we are born. We don’t know how much time we have, but we know that we don’t have long. So, what do we do with the time we’re given? How do we forestall death? What happens after it comes?
I often compare fiction collections to music albums. In both instances, my favorites tend to be those that work from the basis of a galvanizing idea.
“The Downward Spiral,” by Nine Inch Nails (Which, in my view, ranks among the most accomplished works of horror in history.)
“Darkness on the Edge of Town,” by The Boss
“The Illustrated Man,” by Ray Bradbury
Rather than throw together a grab bag of unrelated works, these creators follow the rule that the sum is greater than its parts. Still, it’s one thing to understand this concept. It’s another thing to pull it off.
That requires vision, determination, and talent. Not to mention, hard, grueling work. But the end-result is worth it.
Rather than summarize each story, I will simply say that all five stories included in the collection are worth your time, and could easily stand on their own. They are told with heart, intelligence, a keen insight, and an elegant style. Taff admits that he once set out to craft a collection of (tut, tut) Literary tales, but realized he was doomed to the fate of a horror scribe. Personally, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. And neither does he. But that (tut, tut) style shines through in these harrowing, yet heartfelt tales.
There are some books that you finish, completely satisfied, and toss aside. There are others that you close and contemplate. “The End In All Beginnings” is the latter. And that’s a mark of craftsmanship. That’s a distinguishing quality of art.
I urge you to buy a copy HERE.
Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 8:14 am
Brian, you make me blush! Thanks for the great write up. Can’t wait to read yours next year!