By: Jeremy C. Shipp
If you haven’t read anything by Jeremy C. Shipp, let me first give you a warning. This isn’t your daddy’s fiction. It doesn’t have soft cuddlies, happy endings, or detectives with a thing for soliloquies. I’ve seen his fiction described as “bizarro”, but I like to think of it more as an abstract horror of sorts. With that in mind, today (Halloween) seemed an incredibly appropriate day to post my review of Fungus of the Heart.
Fungus is a collection of shorts. There are 13 in all. I’m sure that isn’t a coincidence. That’s just not the way this works.
The one thing that I appreciate most of Schipps fiction is that it isn’t just weird for weirds sake. There’s a meaning to it all. Take, for instance, my favorite of the shorts in Fungus, Ticketyboo. On the surface, it’s a very strange story about two children and their “new mommy”. But, deep down, there’s a commentary on death and how we deal with it. Or, the books namesake story, Fungus of the Heart, which is, again, a strange story about protectors and guardians and mushrooms in hearts. But, really, it’s all about love. How we love, how we remember lost love, and even about how we obsess about love and those we love.
I’ll admit that I’m beginning to sound a bit like those critics that look at an abstract art painting and see all these hidden meanings when it’s really just a red circle on a white canvas. But, I think Jeremy would back me up here with the fact that there really are those meanings behind his stories. And he’s found a way that is incredibly unique to deliver them.
Certainly, this sort of writing is not for everyone. In fact, I would have to admit that it isn’t really even for me. But, much like those art critics, I do appreciate it for the art that it is. And, being appreciative of it, I’ll be looking to pick up some of Shipps novel length fiction just to see how his style translates into something in a longer form. I think that’s the author in me. Wanting to study something that is unique and different rather than the fiction that is more mainstream.
Disclaimer: I was sent an ARC of Fungus of the Heart for review. I get lots of books for review, and I make every effort to not let that fact sway how I review a book. I hope that is visible in this and every other review I’ve done.