Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Latinum Library Review: Kid

5 of 5 Stars Epic Horror in a Compact Size

My first acquaintance with the writing of Steve Emmett came through my wife, a fellow writer of horror. She read and greatly enjoyed Steve's debut novel Diavolino. I subsequently read it and assessed it to be excellently crafted horror writing. So it was with great pleasure we received the short fiction piece Kid from Steve. It is an axiom that writers are their own worst critics. Steve is no exception. He admitted the piece was, basically, something to keep his presence in the writing world alive while he completes the sequel to Diavolino. He expressed concerns that Kid might not be very good. Steve needs to lighten up on himself and take a bow for a truly remarkable work of short fiction.

Is the premise behind Kid unique or a journey through uncharted territory? No, it is not. It takes the time-tested idea of "Be careful what you wish for." and trots it out with Steve's inspired take on it. Is it a "cookie cutter" tale made in the image of so many others just like it? No. While relying on a standard plot idea certainly bears the potential for that stigma to arise, Steve dodges that bullet nimbly. How exactly does he pull that off? Simple. The appeal of a story often resides not in what it tells but in how it is told.

In my review of Diavolino I made note of the fact that the characters were much more thumbnail sketches rather than portraits. They provided the reader with just enough substance to show they existed without giving you much backstory to invest them with more solidity. I maintained that the story carried the day and that the reader was given just enough of a look at the players as was necessary, without slowing down the pace of the novel.

I am unsure whether my review inspired Steve or whether he has been pumping iron in the sense of developing his writing skill, but his characterization of Kid is night and day different from the characters of Diavolino.

Without spoiling the read, I will simply say that Kid is an individual of unique physical and psychological qualities. Steve truly shows his chops as a writer by providing such wonderfully descriptive prose as to seemingly make Kid step off of the page and stand for your inspection. So descriptively does Steve show you Kid, that the character becomes viablel, palpable and all-too-hideously realistic. It is as if he actually exists to far more than the mind's eye.

It is an unfortunate fact that some short fiction winds out for the reader a potentially longer, more involved story and then must rush to reel in its various aspects within the confines of things such as space and wordcount. Does Steve's foray into short fiction suffer that fate? Thankfully, it does not. Having written my share of short fiction, I admit to jealousy over how precisely Steve writes this story. He makes the pace and the content march side by side from an opening that hooks the reader to an evolved storyline and then terminating in a timely and thoroughly resolved ending. It is a thing of beauty indeed.

If I had any criticism to offer here, it would be that the piece ends all to soon and leaves the reader wanting more...now! I think this tale would be a far more fitting ensemble piece for a collection of, say, five or more stories of comparable length than as a stand-alone. I can only hope that Steve takes this idea to heart and favors us with more of his masterfully crafted short works...soon.

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