Clinical, Brutal… embodies the manifesto of Clinicality Press: “…the concept of ‘clinical brutality,’ i.e. those everyday acts of violence recounted crisply, factually and using technical rather than literary flourishes.” This is certainly not a ‘literary’ collection, although some of the better stories do contain elements of literary insight.
The collection, edited by Christopher Nosnibor, makes me think of that moment when you flip a coin and it hangs in the air, spinning, its landing side unknown. The reader is unsure as to whether each story is going to be good or not so good–they might as well be flipping a coin to decide. The only thing to do is to plunge in, sliding effortlessly through the smears of blood and juicy ropes of gore to the heart of the story. Sometimes your efforts will be rewarded, and sometimes not. Work by Pablo Vision, Díre McCain, A. D. Hitchin and S. F. Grimm are almost certainly going to reward the reader. The others, not so much.
It’s not that the stories themselves are bad. They’re not. It’s two things, really:
1. Spelling mistakes. I cannot abide them, and there is no excuse for them.
2. Peppered between the better stories, written by the people listed above, are stories that smack of the juvenile. I don’t know if this was the intention of the editor to include works by younger authors or if it was just including badly written stories. This is not to say that younger authors write badly–it’s more that the stories in Clinical, Brutal… are not honed to within an inch of their life.
It could be that I am extremely bourgeois and only like ‘literary’ fiction. I do, however, appreciate gratuitous gore, junkies, sadistic sex and death by machine gun…and in that department this collection never let me down.
If you’re looking for something sharp, something shocking, or for things that go bump in the night, read this.