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Craig's Book Club
Book Reviews

Spotlight on: The Eyes of the Carp (Cemetery Dance Novella Series #15) by T.M. Wright


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The Eyes of the Carp by T.M. Wright T.M. Wright, The Eyes of the Carp
(Cemetery Dance Novella Series #15)

Bram Stoker Award-nominated author T.M. Wright is renowned for his facility in revising the ghost story for modern readers. He continues this pattern with The Eyes of the Carp, the 15th entry in Cemetery Dance's acclaimed Novella Series (which also features cover art by the author).

Kevin lives with ghosts that come in the form of phantoms that walk his house and engage him in conversation, or of memories of his past -- his father, his childhood, his marriage to Janet. He relates these experiences in journal form and Wright uses these to illustrate the episodic nature of Kevin's memory -- and the deterioration of his sanity, such as it is.

Kevin is not the most reliable of narrators, making this novella a challenging read, to say the least. It is never less than absolutely compelling, however. There is a strange logic that permeates The Eyes of the Carp, ensuring that even the most peculiar events or statements make complete sense in this context. (I quickly stopped trying to divine the pattern behind the journal headings; but even when the headings devolved into many significant digits of π, there was a formula, as far from my own thought processes as it may have been.)

The Eyes of the Carp is not a traditional narrative by any means, and, in fact, any sense of linear progression is completely thrown out the window by the end, when memories mix with fantasies and hallucinations in a buffet of confusion (with a side order of word salad). With this novella, Wright confidently adds to the "crazy guy tells his life story" genre.

The novella is the ideal format for The Eyes of the Carp: it hasn't been butchered to fit a predetermined short-story length, nor have they been unnecessarily padded out to novel length. Right around 100 pages, it is ideal for finishing in a single sitting in order to fully absorb its atmosphere. Having produced sixteen offerings of this sort so far, one can assume that the Novella Series has been a success. I hope that Cemetery Dance continues to produce these quality books of a more manageable size at a (relatively speaking) reasonable price.

This review originally appeared in somewhat different form on The Green Man Review. Copyright 2005. Reprinted with permission.


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