It’s always nice when a book keeps you up a little later than usual, slouched in your reading chair or propped against your bed’s headboard. For me it was the book MONGRELS by Stephen Graham Jones, and my giant, honey-colored reading chair. Other than his short story THE NIGHT CYCLIST, this is my first read from Jones, and it was more than adequate in convincing me to pursue other books written by the man, as my backside and my reading chair continue their melding relationship. But less about me and my chair and onto the review.
Because that’s what reviewers do. (You’ll have to read the book to get that one, I think).
MONGRELS is written simply and episodically, presenting the moments of a growing boy (ranging from pre-teen to late teens throughout the course of the book) whose aunt, uncle, and grandfather are all werewolves–something he longs to be but is not sure will ever happen. And therein lies the connecting link to an otherwise disorganized format: Will the boy ever turn? The chapters go back and forth in time and narrative, all with entertaining stories teaching us the way, the rules, and the lore regarding the man-wolf hybrids.
Jones’ dissection of the werewolf is thorough and well illustrated, answering questions we’d never think to ask but love the answers anyway. Is it safe for werewolves to wear nylons? Can they eat French fries? The lessons may not seem important, but it’s that extra flavor in the book that makes it stand out, keeping you interested, captivated, and wondering.
Jones’ prose is clean and simple yet sometimes poetic and often hits hard, right where it needs to. My copy of MONGRELS is filled with bright pink lines where I highlighted bits of prose that made me smile in delight at the ingenious use of words.
Because that’s what writers do. They take note.
Exhibits A, B, and C:
“I pushed the gas pedal of the LeSabre hard, stabbed us deeper into the night.”
“Both his hands were in his pants pockets. It made his shoulders more innocent. That’s just another way of saying still guilty, though.”
“I swallowed, was sure it was a tidal wave everyone heard.”
For the coming-of-age fans, the road trip fans, the lycans and the anarchists, with a special place in the heart of those who appreciate Near Dark (yes, the vampire film). If Stephen Graham Jones’ other books are as good as MONGRELS then I’ve found myself another author to add to my list of favorites.
Purchase Mongrels here.