The best stories in this collection showcase R Scott McCoy’s more playful side. “Jihad” is a great example of this, placing the reader in the head of a man obsessed with destroying the rodents that have overrun his house. Certainly, the analytic in me loves that I was never sure what was real and what was purely a figment of the protagonist’s growing psychosis but then he hit me with this: “I’m not leaving my post, Steve. If I do, this position will be overrun. If you want to help, bring me more peanut butter for the traps.” If you didn’t fall in love with that line, I’m not talking to you any more.
I could go on, with stories like “Bitch Queen” (kegel enhanced coochie and all), “Garbage Man” (always use a full sized portrait) and “The Find” (bigfoot-‘nuff said) but you get the point: McCoy knows how to tell a tale that is just downright fun. At the same time, his knack for building honest and true feeling characters gives the more serious tales like the heartfelt “The Last Line” and damn angry “Best Served Cold” the punch they need to truly hit home.
Unfortunately, there are times that McCoy’s old school, Serling-esque aesthetic gets a tad too repetitive and predictable. Most of the time, the personality and characters save those but there are times, specifically in the cases of “Stream Scream” and “Regular Customer”, where the story’s lack of a sense of cohesion or direction kills the experience.
McCoy isn’t out to change the world or shock us with his new and outrageous approach to story telling. His work makes it clear that he is out to do one thing and one thing only: spin a good yarn. Overall, despite a few minor missteps, he certainly succeeds with this collection.