Michael R. Collings is a noted writer, editor and reviewer of genre literature. I was fortunate to connect with him a few years ago, on the advent of the publication of my short story collection, Little Deaths. Michael gave the book a completely unexpected–and wonderful review. Revisit it here.
As wonderful as that review was (and it was!), I was floored tonight when I came across his review, just a few days ago, for The End in All Beginnings. It was a review that, quite literally, had me flushing, forgetting to breathe and tearing up. It’s as humbling a review as I’ve ever, and I mean ever, had.
“Just under half a century ago, I discovered a personal “tell” that let me know when a performance had touched me deeply. Several friends, all of us college freshmen, had just watched Peter O’Toole’s performance in Lord Jim. As we walked back to the dorm, they chatted—as freshmen tend to do—about art direction, nuances of performance and location shots, subtlety of imagery, and complexity of symbolism…everything, indeed, except the story.
Normally, I would have joined them; any number of late-night conversations intent on solving the problems of the universe had convinced me that I could hold my own with them. But this time there was something different, something odd.
I found that I couldn’t talk about the film.
The story had resonated so strongly with me that to open my mouth and break what had become a powerful and meaningful silence was simply impossible.
That experience—with minor variations—has recurred many times since. When I finished reading J.R.R. Tolkien’sThe Lord of the Rings for the first time. When I read John Milton’s Paradise Lost in one sitting as an undergraduate; I was supposed to be studying for a final exam but the storycaptured me and suddenly I was turning the last page of Book XII and wishing there were more. Listening to the final “Prisoners’ Chorus” of Beethoven’s Fidelio at the Hamburg Opera House near the end of my two-year church mission in Germany. When I finished Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbevilles for a graduate course in Victorian literature. When I finished Stephen King’s It, reading a typescript he had sent six months before the novel was published…and, yes, itwas roughly the size of a human head.
There have been more examples over the years, some expected and of short duration; some unexpected and sudden, almost paralyzing in the intensity of emotions generated. But all signaling that I have read or seen something that has changed me and my perceptions of the world in important ways.
The last time it happened, I had just finished John F.D. Taff’s collection of horror novellas, The End in All Beginnings.”
Ummm…I’ll let you read the rest, lest I breakdown like a 12-year-old girl. Go to Michael’s blog and read the rest.
Thanks, Michael. Glad you enjoyed it.
Now go here, all of you, and buy it. Read it. I think you’ll enjoy it, too.
Oh, and P.S. There are two more 5-star reviews for it, bringing the total to 8!