Book: “Growing Things” by Paul Tremblay
Reviewed by: Amelia Valasek, Library Manager
Who should read this: Those who enjoy weird fiction and/or scary stories. Folks with a short attention span who still want to enjoy a good book.
Personal impression: This is a collection of short stories. As such, there were some entries I liked, while some fell flat. The great thing about a collection like this is that you can skip the stories that don’t draw you in. I only ended up skipping three of the stories, and really enjoyed the rest.
Review: Short story collections are one of those things that people either love or hate. For those who enjoy a good collection, this one is worth checking out. Paul Tremblay is best known for his horror novels, and while these stories are sometimes scary, they tend more toward the strange and uncanny. In many of the stories, Tremblay has used the weird and the unexplainable as a framing device to explore much more personal issues – a mother with a drug addiction who has lost custody of her daughter, a writer who can’t make ends meet, a fanboy meeting his idol, a dad enjoying a day at the beach with his kids. Tremblay has a talent for prose, and for weaving together the weird and the mundane in a way I found compelling. He is also a talented craftsman, and his writing adapts effortlessly across a stylistic range from experimental poetry to a heart-pounding robbery get-away.
One of the drawbacks to a collection of short stories, especially for a writer of Tremblay’s talent, is that you connect to the story and the characters quite strongly, only to find the story has ended before you are ready to let go, and left you wanting more. The book falters in a couple of places, especially with the more experimental pieces; a choose-your-own-adventure style piece that failed to draw me in, and a self-indulgent meta-examination of the publishing industry that was neither scary nor interesting. But these two exceptions aside, the book was quite enjoyable. It was the first work I’ve read by this author, though he has quite an extensive back-list. I am excited to read one of his novels and see what he is capable of in a longer format.