Smiling Faces Sometimes
Art by Keith Minnion
White Noise Press, Chapbook $10.00
Reviewed by Nickolas Cook
One of the most dependable writers of deeply moving and emotionally loaded horror fiction is Gary Braunbeck. His newest chapbook release from White Noise Press, Smiling Faces Sometimes, holds true to that trusty tradition, as he tells the story of Alan, a lonely and forsaken man, who has reached the end of his emotional road. Now childless, divorced, and homeless, he seeks sanctuary in his boyhood tree house, where he and his lost friends once held council together. A blood pact of naïve trust and love is the only reminder he has of his vanished childhood – a reminder of all he has lost since adulthood. What happens when he begins to tell his personal askew tales aloud to a nearly forgotten jar of their collective, congealed blood is where the magic starts.
Once again, Braunbeck teeters between symbolic and natural fiction, allowing just enough of the supernatural to seep in to create a tale only he could write. And as with most of Braunbeck’s fiction, the true horrors are all too common and all too human.
Keith Minnion’s pristine ink and pencil art is used in its usual sparing, but effective, way to add a little touch of darkness to the already surreal narrative. As editor and publisher, Minnion seems to clarify his vision more and more with each new entry in this beautiful collector’s series of chapbooks.
Smiling Faces Sometimes is a wise investment for those who prize first-rate horror fiction and art at a price that won’t break the bank. And with only 150 planned for print, you better hurry before they all disappear like the Cheshire cat’s knowing grin.