Why did I read it: I just was in the need for something short and different. For some reason, I picked up this book and it was so difficult to put it down without finishing each and every story.
How I would rate it: 3.5 out of 5 stars. With the important caveat that most of the stories would have garnered a higher or lower rating had they been on their own.
Readers of Jeremy C. Shipp’s fiction will be familiar with his minimalist, breakneck pacing, his surreal forays into political satire, and his seamless blending of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Now, in his fourth book, the Bram Stoker Award finalist expands on what many critics and fans alike have long considered the most compelling aspect of his work-relationships.
This story collection explores how a person’s desire can infect their every action and interaction with others. The desire to protect. The desire to hurt. The desire to be desired. Fungus of the Heart explores what happens between people when society breaks down and the rules go out the window. Haunting and heartbreaking, pithy and potent, the quirky inhabitants of Shipp’s bizarro world will carve an indelible line from your funny bone to your spleen to your emotional core.
Review: Yet another book that I don’t quite have the words to explain. Overall, I greatly enjoyed the themes of love, loss, anger and desire explored throughout this collection as well as the ways in which people become monsters. The gender blurring throughout was really neat too. Shipp created really complex worlds in the span of a few sentences as he related unique and often powerful tales.
That said, Fungus of the Heart left with me with a lot of mixed feelings. Slightly over half of the stories – “The Sun Never Rises in the Big City,” “The Haunted House,” Fungus of the Heart,” “Boy in the Cabinet,” “Just Another Vampire Story,” “The Escapist,” and “How to Make a Clown” – resonated very strongly with me. I also think that the fact that they didn’t always make much logical sense ending up making sense in a completely different yet awesome way. The remaining 6 stories never struck the same sort of chord with me and made sense in a way that felt less organic compared to the other 7.
In conclusion, a mostly fascinating collection that will appeal to fans of Dark Fantasy with a hint of Horror and the occasional Noir vibe.