Short Story Review: “Nation of Disease: The Rise & Fall of a Canadian Legend” by Jonathan Sharp

3 of 5 stars.

Literature purporting to be a journal or article adds an air of impartiality, but also separation of ownership. Tone matters. In this case, the tale claims to be a magazine news article reporting the facts of a horrific situation. However since the article merely reports it after the fact, the tale itself is not horror but rather realistic fiction that hints at a potential larger supernatural element, or more accurately at the belief in supernatural involvement by those firsthand participants in the story.

The setting is a murder of a musician at Austin’s annual South by Southwest Festival by his fellow band member–during a stage performance. The tale reads like a police blotter with a modicum of extra reporting to reveal witness statements and descriptions of found witness video from online sources. While “crime of passion” or drugs might seem like obvious explanations, this article implies that the goth-metal musicians dealt in the occult and were artistically attempting to tap into a larger, ultra-dimensional unseen force musically.

The strength of this story is not in what it shows about the crime itself or the individuals involved, but rather in the implications of what is not seen in this type of reporting. The first-hand accounts of those involved are absent. In the mainstreaming and normalizing process of report stories, real and perceived supernatural evidence and implications are edited out. Journalism would abide nothing else outside of a supermarket checkout rag. Demons, whether present or in the mind of the perpetrator, do not make the final cut. Rather, a musical genre stands scapegoat in the face of tragedy.

This tale appears in Whispers from the Abyss edited by Kat Rocha. I received this new anthology directly from 01 Publishing through bookreviewdirectory.wordpress.com. I’d previously reviewed this author’s “Skoptsy”, which was quite compelling.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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