Terrible Stories is a half-fold red (some issues blue) ink on cream paper zine collection of six short stories.
This zine opens with a table of contents on page one and nothing more. I might have thought nothing of this on another day, but for this reading, I paused. I felt like the story titles sitting there alone on the page set me up for the zine being all about the words on the pages, if you know what I mean.
Kelly establishes a strong writing voice with the first story. A creative combination of images and words connect directly with the senses. Phrases like ‘tremedous burp’ and ‘satisfied splat’ made me smile but weren’t so distracting that they threw me out of the story. (Even if I did find some of the imagery a bit gross. Haha.)
The first story, ‘Big Sky’, certainly lives up to the title with the violence this reader couldn’t hope to understand involved. Admittedly the stories that follow are more tame, but Kelly certainly came out swinging. Kelly did a great job in setting up a strange situation and still making it even stranger with ease at the end.
I couldn’t help but notice a bit of wandering back and forth between past and present tense in all the stories. This seemed to increase with each story, so it may have been intentional – though that intention is a mystery to me. That being said, it didn’t really throw me out of the stories – more caused a mental note.
I can’t say that I fully understand all the stories in that some felt more like scenes than stories, but I did enjoy them. I found myself going over the little details, wondering if there was something hidden to connect them all or nothing. (There were mentions of breath and breezes, but that’s as far as I got.) I really can’t pick a favourite of the bunch. Each time I start leaning toward one, I remember the things I liked about another.
Recommending fiction can be a tough call, but if you like a bit of horror mixed in with literary fiction, give this one a read. It leaves me feeling curious and eager to read more of Kelly’s writing.