Fireflies of The Dead by poet Eric Kapitan is a short horror story anthology with an extreme approach. Kapitan writes in the introduction that the book contains societal and cultural taboos. That’s all fine and dandy – I’m all for taboos! However, taboos can either make or break a work of literary “art” (I quoted art because Kapitan’s work is everything but artistic). In this case, the taboos broke the anthology’s spine and decapitated it before it could say “boo!”. I am unsure whether the author wanted to shock readers or if he just enjoys touching on the heavy literary taboos? He doesn’t do it with grace, nor with beautiful prose. It’s all very pastiche and shock-schlock from page one to page 75. One of the stories was so taboo that I stopped reading the book and had to put it down for a breather. This never happens to me. I take all the guts and gore and taboos on the chin, yet Kapitan managed to make me feel physically sick. This isn’t horror – it’s shock-your-socks Eli Roth all the way!
Kapitan writes exquisitely and as a fellow author who started with poetry before moving into prose, I know what it takes to break the habits of verbosity and unnecessary alliteration. Kapitan gets it right about 70% of the time. Here and there and somewhere in between he slips up and repeats his prose as if it were a poem. Some of the short stories are written succinctly, which should come across as poetic, but comes across instead as staccato repetition with poor metaphors and disassembled similes. The author had something great going at the outset, but I tapped out when the pedophile-taboo hit. I loathed this anthology. I truly loathed it.
Read it with an open mind. Or don’t read it. The universe will thank you.
RATING: 0 out of 5