Edgar Allan Poe on Steroids
Kevin P. Keating's novel The Captive Condition is described on the inside cover as the story of "an idyllic Midwestern college town that turns out to be a panorama of depravity and a nexus of horror" and I suppose that's accurate, although Normandy Falls hasn't been idyllic for a long time-- it's the victim of typical Midwestern post-industrial decay, but instead of the reality of opiate addiction, the town has fallen prey to other substances . . . the Gonk's homebrewed "Red Death" and chef Xavier's psychedelic jazar juice-- comprised of many things, but mainly an African carrot and formaldehyde . . . if this sounds absurd, it is . . . the book is a flurry of haunting images and elevated prose, done in the style of Poe and Lovecraft-- almost satirically-- and the nexus of evil is the maintenance section of the local university, presided over by the Gonk, but there's also murders, evil twin children, adulterous professors, ancient experiments gone wrong, possession, automatic writing, outside art, and a one-eyed lost soul of narrator trying to escape the clutches of the town and everything in it; this all leads up to a wild and whirling conclusion; if you're looking for something weird and grotesque, this is the book for you.