Sunday, February 03, 2008


1. the surgical removal of all or part of a ... um ... salami.
2. a strategy employed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War to take over Europe “slice-by-slice” with no one slice so grave as to compel the West to respond militarily.
3. A particularly disturbing method of moving a horror story forward, a catalyst.

Have you ever had a story leave you speechless? I really wanted to mean that in the good way, but something happened that ... whittled down ... my estimation.

The short story "Noodlers Nab Naked Nymphs" by Steven E. Wedel is read by the author and presented in video format. It's a meaty twenty-two minutes and thirty-five seconds long. It's a free stream from the folks and joins a number of other stories presented by their authors on that website. Be warned, this is about horror and they take their genre seriously.

It's the story of some backwoods boys who visit the Kiamichi Wilderness in Oklahoma, or "kiamish" as the locals call it. They want to go fishing in the Glover River, which is actually the last free-flowing (undammed) river in Oklahoma. These red-dirt rednecks are the kind of folks that "upstanding" Oklahomans will go a long way to not have to acknowledge as kin. Because it is a Wedel story, the dialogue is crisp, the setting is beautifully painted, and the characters exceeding realistic. From the word "GO", the language they use is decidedly NOT family friendly.

Once they arrive at the river, they are attacked by a crazed man who mutilates one of the boys and uses his severed penis to summon a river nymph. Now, nymphs in general are like fairies, except they are female and scary. I leave what happens next your imagination, but count on bloody spectacle, shock and awe.

Technically, the story was very well done. All of the elements that should have made it great were there. It just got weighted down by the harsh language and the "salami-otomy" that happened in the first few minutes of the story. It's a good, but long listen. Check it out, but be prepared for the R-rated content.

"Seven Days in Benevolence" by Steven E. Wedel is everything that you would expect from a master storyteller with a few of style points deducted for disturbing content.

Just through a painful divorce, Dena and her two daughters are ready for a new life in Benevolence, Oklahoma. Even though Dena has a found job, moving to a new town poses challenges. The family needs a place to live. The oldest daughter, Rebecca, will attend public school, and the youngest, Brianna, needs day care. Her ex-husband still wants Dena and the children back, but can't have them for reasons that are brilliantly developed through context, action and dialogue.

When Dena finds an old house that's just the right size for the family and has the perfect yard and a basement, she doesn't realize how much more than a home she is getting. Like every really good ghost story, the setting is a character unto itself, and this one is very well drawn. The seven days the family spends in that setting are told in this novella length story. There was enough meat on the stiff old bones of the house on 12th Street to have made a novel that really measured up.

Have you ever been swept along by a story so much that your "willing suspension of disbelief" was so utterly suspended that, like a rodeo cowboy, you didn't realize that things were going wrong until you were bucked off and being stomped on by a very angry nineteen hundred pound bull? That is this story. There are two things about the story that bothered me enough to deduct a few style points. It's disturbing to read a story that emphasizes the forcible amputation of a human penis as a method of salvation. It's quite beyond that to have that penis intended to be used as a weapon against an infant with "her small body stripped of all clothing, her arms and legs splayed so that she looked like a pale, stranded starfish" (p.97). This was an unfortunate choice and compromised the ending of what had been a very good story up to then.

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