“THE CITY THAT NEVER STOPS CRYING”
I just finished GOBLIN, A Novel in Six Novellas by Josh Malerman, and I’m still reeling at what he has done with this book. He has intertwined these novellas so cleverly–they all take place in the same city, on the same night where one character’s car may backfire, and another character may hear it in “their” novella.
It rains constantly in Goblin, and each of these six novellas tells tales that happen under the relentless rains of Goblin, ‘the city that never stops crying.’ But first, there’s a prologue to welcome the reader and set them in the proper frame of mind. A suspiciously shaped box must be delivered secretly to Goblin between midnight and 12:30–if that window of time can’t be met, the container must be destroyed. The job pays well–if nothing goes wrong–but the box has a life of its own. And that sets the tone for this haunting book.
There were moments that resonated with me, that I will remember long after I’ve put the book away, not always the big moments, but ones the crawled under my skin, the extra bits that Malerman planted deep in the stories.
In “A Man in Slices,” the story was about something else. Still, I’ll never forget the all-encompassing wetness at the summer camp between the rain and the lake, then Richard’s awful realization that he’d lost track of his friend and everyone’s terror that Charles had probably drowned. They were on the buddy system, so the adults said it was Richard’s fault—and oh, the guilt as they search and look in the water for a drowned boy. I know guilt, don’t you? If we come to books to find out that we aren’t alone in our feelings, Malerman nailed it, again. “A Man in Slices” was about so many other things, too; this was just a bit.
“Kamp” is delightful horror as it presents the story of a man, a Goblin historian, who gets so tied up in the past that he isn’t paying attention to the present. Maybe not everyone is delighted with horror, but there was that moment when all the bits clicked into place—delightful. Horror. Yes.
“Happy Birthday, Hunter!”– I love owls, and Trachtenbroit’s affinity with them is also mine. The tale of Trachtenbroit’s discovery of The Great Owls and how he brought them to the North Woods is a fabulous mini-story within the larger story. It is a rare gem set inside this novella that just goes to show how layered the history of Goblin is in this novel, more faceted than I can possibly present in a short review.
I’ll leave you to discover and wonder at “Presto,” “A Mix-Up at the Zoo,” “The Hedges,” and “Epilogue: Make Yourself at Home.” Finally, Glenn Chadbourne’s Illustrations are superb, and the one of The Great Owl, which appears at the very end of the book, left me breathless.
Thank you to #NetGalley #RandomHousePublishingGroup #Ballantine and the author for the ARC in exchange for my honest feedback; this is it!