Yesterday, I picked up Mark Richard's Charity from the library. I first encountered Richard when a friend gave me Fishboy as a birthday gift in high school. I actually didn't really care for Fishboy the first time I read it, but I pulled it out last year and re-read it. Much to my (pleasant) surprise, it turned out to be a great read. (In fact, it sort of inspired me to give Moby Dick a try, but that's a different story.)
Richard seems to get grouped together with Palahniuk, probably because they have similar literary influences. (Amy Hempel, Gordon Lish, Raymond Carver) And Fishboy shares some superficial similarities with Haunted. Both aim for dark, gruesome humor and both feature stories within the main narrative. The books are otherwise very different, much to Richard's benefit.
Charity is a collection of Richard's short stories, and I've decided that I'm going to be reading it and giving it the "story a day" treatment I gave Lugones' Strange Forces. I thought the approach worked really well with Lugones, allowing me to organize and get a better feel for the authors style and themes.
That prompted me to think it might be worth treating Haunted like a short-story collection and giving it the story a day treatment. Some people might say this is unfair, since Haunted is a novel, not a short story collection. To which I call bullshit, since it was conceived as a short-story collection and Frankensteined up into a novel. (The zippers still show.) That's something down the road as I debate whether to re-read the accursed thing or just review the stories from memory, but in the meantime I thought I'd dredge up my Deep One explanation for St. Gut-Free's curious biological properties. Previously I had tried to lay it out in a somewhat convoluted, rambling style, but since I've already been pretty rambling about getting to the theory itself, I'm just going to bullet-point it for ease of read. Anyway, without further ado...
Evidence that St. Gut-Free is actually a Deep One
- Despite having no body fat, no surplus muscle mass, and a poor ability to absorb nutrients through his digestive system he manages to survive a period of starvation that incapacitates normal people.
- His sperm is able to survive for prolonged periods in chlorinated water. Once it detects an ovulating female, it instinctively swims up her cervix to fertilize available eggs.
- He masturbates underwater. Obviously the water-womb association has a particular significance for him, what with his who mother who hides herself away. (What could be more humiliating than the Innsmouth look?)
- He hooks up with Mother Nature. (The dude's quite the Oedipal mess, see above.) Out of all the women, he picks the one who represents a primal, pre-human state of existence.
- His intestines taste like squid tentacles.