Books / Horror / Reviews

Review: In the Fishbowl, We Bleed

“Jeremy C. Shipp’s boldness, daring, originality, and sheer smarts make him one of the most vital younger writers who have colonized horror literature in the past decade. Shipp’s modernist clarity, plus his willingness to risk damn near everything, put him up at the head of the pack with the very best.”
–Peter Straub

“Shipp’s clear, insistent voice pulls you down into the rabbit hole and doesn’t let go.”
–Jack Ketchum

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From the product description on Amazon:

A model in a beaded dress claws off her own face, her nails working on her skin like potato peelers. A woman surgically removes her fingers to become the ragdoll her husband always wanted. A disturbed billionaire hires a professional companion to act as his own personal hamster. IN THE FISHBOWL, WE BLEED collects nine stories from the chthonic imagination of Jeremy C. Shipp — acclaimed author of VACATION, CURSED and ATTIC CLOWNS.

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I received a copy of IN THE FISHBOWL, WE BLEED in exchange for an honest review. The only reason I didn’t already have this collection of nine terrifying tales is because I didn’t know about it. I’m a long time fan of Shipp’s work, having previously read and enjoyed ATTIC CLOWNS and MONSTROSITIES, and when Jeremy offered me a chance to read this latest anthology I accepted without hesitation.

There’s a reason why the legendary horror author Peter Straub calls Jeremy C. Shipp “…one of the most vital younger writers who have colonized horror literature in the past decade.” Shipp is a passionate wordsmith who knows his way around the english language and manipulates it to his—and his reader’s—advantage. His prose is precise and colorful and his characters are often larger than life, an uncommon trait for short fiction which generally depends on action and story to prop up paper doll characters. If Shipp ever writes a paper doll character, it will be an actual paper doll: a walking, talking, cigar smoking paper doll with a bloody pair of scissors in it’s hand and a pile of body parts at it’s feet. That’s exactly the kind of characters and scenarios you can count on finding within the pages of this book. You hear it bandied about all the time how this author or that author is paving new ground, or exploring new frontiers, and other cliches that tend to be more hyperbole than reality. But when it comes to Jeremy C. Shipp, it’s true. It isn’t hype or bullshit, just plain fact. When it comes to groundbreaking fiction Jeremy isn’t just marching to the beat of his own drum, he’s dancing frantically to the groove of a band of mariachi clowns. He takes recurring themes of spousal neglect, child abuse, oppression of lower classes, etc., and puts a fresh and invigorating spin on them.

While it’s extremely difficult to pick any favorite stories in this book, a few that really stood out are “Shade”, the story of an adulterer who is terrorized by a dark presence that threatens to undo his existence; “Balloon Boy”, a tale of bullies, retribution and, yes, attic clowns; and the two terrifying and heartbreaking stories of Jester Blue and Jester Red, “Foot” and it’s continuation, “Masks”.

IN THE FISHBOWL, WE BLEED surpasses Shipp’s earlier works in creativity and scope, clearly demonstrating a depth of character and sophistication that was present in his earlier works but still, to a great degree, under construction. Here, his skill and creativity are all grown up and ready to come out and shine in all their twisted glory.

Jeremy has a small cult following of sorts–the people who love his work love it with great passion–but he is still criminally underrated in the field of speculative fiction. If you aren’t reading his work, you should start now and you should start with IN THE FISHBOWL WE BLEED. You won’t be disappointed by anything except the fact that, as in life itself, the end comes much too quickly.

You can purchase this and all his other works on his Amazon author page, and you can follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/JeremyCShipp

About the author:

jeremyphotoJeremy C. Shipp is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of Cursed, Vacation, and Sheep and Wolves. His shorter tales have appeared or are forthcoming in over 60 publications, the likes of Cemetery Dance, ChiZine, Apex Magazine, Withersin, and Shroud Magazine. Jeremy enjoys living in Southern California in a moderately haunted Victorian farmhouse called Rose Cottage. He lives there with a couple of pygmy tigers and a legion of yard gnomes. The gnomes like him. The clowns living in his attic–not so much. His twitter handle is @JeremyCShipp.

Feel free to contact Jeremy via email at: chrismatrix(at)yahoo(dot)com

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4 thoughts on “Review: In the Fishbowl, We Bleed

  1. Pingback: New review at Shotgun Logic | Jeremy C. Shipp

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