“This Book Hates You” is a collection of short stories by David L. Tamarin intended to shock and disgust the reader. Unfortunately, even with the graphic but monotonously repetitive depictions of rape, torture, and murder, the majority of stories fall flat. The characters are interchangeable one dimensional paper people, the story lines are tedious, and the entire collection disregards one of the cardinal rules of writing: show, don’t tell.
The preface is a several page long manifesto declaring the subsequent works as “True Art” and “subversive”. The POV changes randomly, and it’s written in a scramble of past and present tense. This could be construed as establishing an unreliable narrator, but the whole thing reeks of self admiration.
The stories themselves are nearly indistinguishable from one another. There is no change in tone, style, or even characters, who are entirely without interests or any motivation whatsoever excluding rape, drugs, and murder.
In his attempt to shock and offend (an attempt that comes at the price of the book), Tamarin completely disregards all other aspects of storytelling, creating a final product that leaves the reader so disengaged and bored that the recitation of sadism and sodomy leave no impression at all.
There are a few comedic and well placed one-liners amid the sometimes detailed but always detached descriptions of atrocities, and I did find myself nearly laughing out loud a few times. The last line in “A Fistful of Tumors” was a particularly surprising show of wit. Unfortunately, I also found myself rolling my eyes at the adolescent attempts of the author to write “edgy” material. The vague but unrelenting criticism of Christianity, particularly in the first few stories, is so cliche it becomes grating. When the author declares “satanic death metal bands” like Slayer are what Satan himself prefers, I had to double check the year, because that reference was woefully outdated and pitiable. Wasn’t the whole “rock n’ roll is the Devil’s music” thing put to bed in the ’80s? And if it’s going to be used, wouldn’t Cannibal Corpse be a much more relevant reference?
This collection is filled with descriptions of supposed horror in such a passive voice, it amounts to pages filled with “and then this happened.” All in all, ‘This Book Hates You’ is difficult to get through because if Hell is repetition, then Hell can be found in this book. When, or rather, if, a reader finishes this book, it’s not likely to leave any lasting impression at all, and certainly none of the side effects the book flatters itself by listing in the preface (including but not limited to nausea, vomiting, anal rash, impotence, jaundice, immortality, and death).
That being said, I would love to know what other horror fans think. Get it on Amazon and let me know if I hit the nail on the head, or if I’m just an asshole.