The Infernal Republic by Marshall Moore
|The Infernal Republic by Marshall Moore|
|Category: Short Stories|
|Reviewer: Ed Prior|
|Summary: A mixed bag anthology of short stories that misses far more often than it hits.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? No|
|Pages: 225||Date: February 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
The Infernal Republic is a collection of short stories containing a mixture of general fiction, horror and fantasy published by Signal8Press, an imprint of author Marshall Moore's own publishing company Typhoon Media Ltd. Now normally I wouldn't pay much attention to who publishes the books I read, but in this case I'm making an exception because I can't honestly believe that any traditional publisher would have put out this book in this form. The whole collection is so badly crying out for a good editor that it actually ended up making me angry in places.
Which isn't to say it's all bad. The opening story Urban Reef is genuinely interesting and well-constructed, detailing a lunch meeting between two strangers, both hoping to make a connection, while in the background a man threatens to commit suicide. This is a neat little story which poses some interesting questions about city living and its affects on the human psyche which gave me high hopes for the rest of the collection.
Sadly I was immediately disappointed. The next story Everything Has Been Arranged is barely more than a sketch of an idea about the form moving house might take in the future. I have nothing against flash fiction, but neither the central concept, the imagery or character here were strong enough to make such a short piece work effectively. What ought to be an arresting vignette instead ends up flat and forgettable. It's as if a comedian had walked on stage and said Speed cameras are annoying, aren't they? then not bothered to actually construct a joke around it and still expected the audience to laugh.
Elsewhere Marshall Moore makes such rudimentary errors as breaking up a conversation with a page long description of one of the characters between two lines of dialogue, totally destroying the flow of what's being said and leaving me having to skip back a page to pick up the thread of the conversation before continuing. This is the sort of basic problem any competent editor would have picked up on and could easily have been revised, turning what might have been an interesting piece of writing into a frustrating bit of reading.
The really irritating thing about this collection is it so clearly could have been much better. Moore has some good ideas, a sentient house afraid of being renovated, a young man slowly turning into a statue, a wannabe superhero with a particularly unsavoury power but there are too many little mistakes and awkward moments that interrupt the narrative every time it's in danger of getting interesting. If only this had been seen by a serious editor and undergone a bit of revision this might have been quite an original, interesting collection. Sadly the little mistakes add up to outweigh the few big pluses giving a disappointed group of stories that might have been much more.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Infernal Republic by Marshall Moore at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Infernal Republic by Marshall Moore at Amazon.com.
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Robin MacDonald said:
I just read your review of The Infernal Republic, and quite frankly I couldn't disagree more.
For what it's worth I have enjoyed reading all of the short stories: they are inventive, at times shocking and most memorable. I've passed my copy on to friends who have also loved it.
I detect a hint of the green eyes monster in your review, why are you so insistent that " normally I wouldn't pay much attention to who publishes the books I read, but in this case I'm making an exception because I can't honestly believe that any traditional publisher would have put out this book in this form."? The fact that the author is using his own publishing house to release the book should be of no import, surely? Marshall Moore's other books, both novels and short story collections, have been published by a number of publishers, this is the first one in which he has gone it alone. But further more, the vast majority of the stories in this collection have been edited and published by other presses: The Asia Literary Review, The Barcelona Review and Word Riot to name but three. As far as I can tell all but possibly three of the stories have been published and edited by others; so why the big rant about self-editing? It's simply not true that the stories were self-edited and that no " traditional publisher would have put out this book in this form " In the future it may help your career if you do just a little bit of research on the facts before you disparage others' works. A quick Google search on the story titles would have revealed that the vast majority of these stories have been "professionally" edited by others and have been accepted by other publishing houses for inclusion in literary reviews and anthologies.
I'd hope you have the professional courtesy to correct the inaccuracies of your slapdash review, but who am I kidding. I know you won't put my email up on your site so all I can wonder is: Who are you anyway, where are your credentials? I don't see any of your previous reviews on the internet...New at this are you?
Disappointed and just a tad annoyed at the "rudimentary errors" in your review,
Educational Consultant Think Ahead Limited 12th floor Well View Commercial Building 8 - 12 Morrison Street Sheung Wan Hong Kong
Ed Prior replied:
Every review is always going to be subjective. I put a lot of thought into this one as I hate writing a negative review, but I stand by what I said and felt it would devalue any good reviews I write if I wasn't honest about a book I didn't enjoy.
I focused on the fact Marshall Moore's own publishing house had put out the book for the stated reason: I'm not convinced an entirely disinterested publishing house would have published this without significant revision. Short story collections are very hard to get published by big traditional publishers as you may be aware. Perhaps I'm wrong about this one, but that was my honest opinion.
Yes, I am relatively new to writing reviews, although I do have several others online, but I'm not new to reading books. I was fully aware that stories from this collection had been published elsewhere, it actually says so in the back of the book, but I'm also aware that standards of editing vary wildly from publication to publication. I didn't actually say the book hadn't been edited, just that I doubted it had been by anyone 'competent' or 'serious'. That is, of course, only my opinion, which is surely what a review is after all?