A bunch of nice reviews came in in the last few days, and I’ve only had time to post about them now. (Little boy had a fever, and a serious case of the two’s – stayed up from about midnight to 4 in the morning a few nights ago requesting “choo choo.” Mossad should hire him as a negotiation contractor.)
From Jared at Pornokistch:
Mr. Bennett author I admire very, very much and American Elsewhere is his best book yet. Probably by a country mile. That’s not to knock the others, but I think American Elsewhere is Mr. Bennett’s most complete work to date – combining the tension of Mr. Shivers and the grandeur of The Troupe. To quote my grandma, “this book is a corker”.
Bennett evokes notes of H.P. Lovecraft, Neil Gaiman, and Stephen King, but does so in a voice and style that I’ve come to recognize as distinctly his. I believe Robert Jackson Bennett is one of the best living writers of speculative horror, and I wouldn’t argue dropping the last three words. Consider me his biggest fan.
Robert Jackson Bennett isn’t the sort of writer to sit on his laurels, and churn out books that resemble their predecessors simply because they’ve struck a chord with readers. From the period piece of The Troupe he’s moved forward to contemporary times to give an enthralling homage to B-movies that draws you in with various mysteries, and proceeds to present answers that make perfect sense within the world that he has set up. As with all his books, you need to concentrate when you’re reading it: clues to what is happening are seeded throughout, and you want to go back once you’ve finished to pick up on the elements that weren’t as obvious at first glance.
Bennett slyly grafts elements from David Lynch and Neil Gaiman, Shirley Jackson and H.P. Lovecraft, and nearly half of this brick of a novel carefully parcels out disruptions like the nightmare in Elm house. He is a master of the slow reveal, and scene after scene knocks the reader back on her heels, slips away from what we expect. There’s a real delight in how dark it gets behind the front doors in Bennett’s small town of Wink
John Clute, whom I admire, unfortunately found it too long and meandering, and not disciplined enough – which is a fair point. American Elsewhere is very much a novel of excess – but that’s more or less what I found that the book needed to be. I think there’s a style of book that fits into this category – glorious excess – and maybe in the future I’ll write a post about exactly what I think that is, and why such a style of book is worth reading.