Have you ever had one of those days when you swear that one more uninvited human interaction may make you unravel? Where you know that the employee selling miniature drones at the shopping mall is just doing their job but, if that drone is still following you 10 feet from now, you may just snatch it out of the air and shove it down their throat?
Mike Roberts is having one of those days.
The streets of Boston are filled with homeless people asking for your spare change. Eventually, these faces become familiar and you learn how to routinely decline or avoid them altogether. On this particular day, Mike has had it. He gives Boston’s beggars the old “what for” by sending the streets’ most infamous dweller’s earnings flying across the pavement with his foot. Before he has the opportunity to right his wrong, Karma pays Dr. Roberts a visit and begins spilling forth from every crevice in his life.
As horror fans, we’ve become acquainted with many novels that are centered around the protagonist’s slow descent into madness. What I loved about this book is that Mike’s character was not a whiny, pleading basket-case about it. There was no, “did you hear/see that?!” in every chapter and with the exception of one person pointing out that he looks overwhelmed, there were no conversations with anyone in his life revolving around how it is spiraling out of control. Mike is a "suffer in silence" type of guy and that worked really well here. The majority of the time when I read a story that has a character who has a bunch of acronyms after their name, I become completely detached. I am not interested in the personal and social woes that apparently come along with having expansive financial resources. In Dr. Roberts' case, he had some redeemable qualities. He was caring for his mother in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease and pinched pennies by walking or taking public transportation in order to afford additional care for her. He felt guilty for previously being an ass to a stranger and although it was a little too late, he attempted to make up for his behavior. These details were important in my reading experience as the story is shorter and we do not have a whole lot of time to get to know Mike as we would in a longer novel.
My first taste of Barnett’s writing was the short story “Loose Stones” posted on the blog in May. I adored the story so much that I immediately got my hands on My Hungry Friend. While many readers have auto-buy lists of authors, Barnett has easily made his way on to my extremely short list of authors that I have dubbed my “I must have every piece of literature that you have had a hand in” list. He writes with such fluidity that you will devour this book in a single bite. Although I read My Hungry Friend at a break-neck speed, I had to pause numerous times just to appreciate how effortless every sentence was. His writing is absolutely seamless. If I ever feel compelled to attempt even a mediocre piece of fiction, this is the kind of talent that I would one day hope to possess.
This is an author that you need to introduce yourself to and keep an eye on. Find yourself a cozy spot, devoid of shadows and peel back the cover of this one. Just mind the cracks…
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