If you haven’t really considered it before, consider it now: addiction is pure horror.
Prior to Lullabies For Suffering, I thought of addiction as a staple ingredient in literary drama; horror hadn’t really occurred to me. After reading this collection, it seems like such an obvious overlook on my part. How did I ever miss it? Addiction is pure horror. It manipulates and twists and breaks a person. It destroys their world, makes it something else, dark and starving. Lullabies For Suffering captures these feelings (and more) with competence and ease. The six stories contained within will make you reposition, twitch, and wince. It’s as much an uncomfortable experience as it is chaotically poetic. Honest and gut-wrenching, these stories tell a warning, one that many cannot find themselves to heed.
“Sometimes They See Me” is a ride through euphoria at times, but ultimately unnerving and cracked as a whole. Its conclusion is unique and artistic. It leaves the reader with a dull ache, something becoming familiar with me and Burke’s work.
“Monsters” introduces me to Kepnes in short form for the first time, and while it feels a little cockeyed at times in its storytelling, the narratives are personal and well-developed. You’re not going to get a contestor to You, but this is also clearly a Kepnes story (which is a wonderful thing on its own).
“Lizard” – written by the editor of this collection, Mark Matthews – is probably the deepest entry, with tragic character development and a feeling of full-arc in its telling.
“The Melting Point of Meat” was probably the most disturbing and bizarre story, but in a good way. It frequently made me cringe and exhale stilted breaths. Being new to Taff, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the cosmic conclusion was as awesome as it was weird.
“Beyond the Reef” and “Love is a Crematorium” both felt a little weak at times, but were also ripe with possibilities. Despite the issues I had with these two entries, there were still some excellent theatrics and drama to be found. None of the work in this collection failed.
Ultimately, Lullabies For Suffering delivers time and again. There’s a lot to fear in these stories and a lot to learn. Rarely do you come across a collection so well-versed in its life lessons and realistic horrors.