Thursday, April 23, 2009

Book Review: Garbage Man by Joseph D'Lacey

Joseph D’Lacey follows up his stunning debut novel Meat with an equally aware new horror novel, Garbage Man! This time around, instead of focusing on people’s blind faith and ignorance as to where their food comes from like in Meat, D’Lacey addresses people’s wastefulness and what happens to all the trash that is so irresponsibly disposed of.

As Meat was, Garbage Man is an eye-opening experience that asks relevant but difficult questions. Garbage Man further establishes D’Lacey as one of the most socially aware and most important horror writers of our time!

The town of Shreve is most well-known for its gigantic landfill. Every day more waste is heaped upon the already bulging area, with the denizens never really questioning where their waste will go once the landfill has reached max capacity nor really caring that they are poisoning the ground and surrounding countryside.

Mason Brand, once a famous photographer but now a reclusive hermit living in Shreve, hears “the calling.” Where once before he ignored it, this time he will heed the call and help usher in a new age as a new type of creature is born from people’s unwanted trash. This creature is fashioned from bits of rusty pipes, old appliances, scraps of rag and bone, garbage bags, food wrappers and anything and everything else that was put in the landfill. With Brand’s help, this creature and its brethren seek to rise up from the wastefulness of humans and establish a new order…

Eco-horror is poised to be the next big thing, and I believe that D’Lacey is at the forefront of such and important and frightening sub-genre. If you think about it, now is the perfect time for this sub-genre to emerge, with the crisis of global warming, devastating droughts, increased hurricane and tornado activity, mass pollution, extinction of animals, deforestation and on and on. Everyone should be concerned with these issues that hit close to home. I think that eco-horror and socially relevant horror novels like Garbage Man could make a big difference. Hell, D’Lacey’s Meat novel made me go vegan and I’ve no doubt that Garbage Man will make me take a closer look at my consumption and what I throw away.

I really admire D’Lacey for incorporating such tough issues into horror novels. Without being “preachy” he makes his readers question actions as seemingly mundane as what you eat and what you throw away. As you read his novels, a self-realization will take over that will make you question your own actions and how they effect your environment and the world at large, as well as how they effect yourself. D’Lacey is never forceful in his views, instead letting you come to your own big “ah-ha!” moment.

Garbage Man is no exception, with D’Lacey writing some very powerful prose. The novel is also extremely entertaining, creeping under your skin with the description of the “Garbage Man” and his slithering yet awkward brothers and sisters in the first stages of their lives. From otherworldly and weird these garbage creatures quickly turn menacing as they begin to grow and pose more a threat to Shreve.

The novel kind of feels like it is in two parts…one is the story of the citizens of Shreve, including Mason Brand, while the second part tells of the birth of the garbage monsters and their attack on the town. The characters are extremely well-developed, but I will say that maybe too much time is spent on the human characters as opposed to the creatures. I would have liked to see more creatures early on. Also, some of the characters’ secrets that are revealed in the first part of the book are never really brought up again…I was expecting their “secrets” (like a father that is a pedophile and a mother that has an affair with a much younger boy) that had been buried in the landfill were going to somehow resurface to haunt and torment them once the creatures were released. Unfortunately, they aren’t really touched upon again.

Other than that, Garbage Man was another stunning work from Joseph D’Lacey and a book that I could barely put down! It was a real page turner and really makes you think, just what if Mother Nature gets tired of our trashing her and decides to cleanse the planet…?

Better start recycling…

Available from Amazon!

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