Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Let the Old Dreams Die, by John Ajvide Lindqvist

(hb; 2013: fiction/horror anthology.  Translated from the Swedish by Ebba Segerberg)

Overall review:

Dreams is a solid anthology - I liked six of the twelve stories a lot, enjoyed bits of four of the other ones, and disliked two, because of their odd writing ("To Put My Arms Around You, to Music" and "Paper Walls").  The stories that I was "meh" about sometimes ran too long ("Tindalos" and "Majken"), or were solid but forgettable trifles from a writer who regularly transcends this sort of tale-telling.

That said, Lindqvist does a solid job of indirectly linking the stories via mood, cultural references (e.g., The Smiths song "Shoplifters of the World Unite"; Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel The Idiot; etc.) and mining his familiar themes of life and death, in their variable forms.

Worth owning, if you're a die-hard fan of Lindqvist, or if you buy it for a reduced price.  Or do what I did, and check it out from the library (if you're lucky enough to have one nearby).

Standout stories:

1.)  "The Border" - An inspections agent (Tina) discovers a major source of her emotional disconnection from her everyday life, as well as her sense of being "different".  Good, mood-effective read.

2.)   "Itsy Bitsy" - Effective fever dream about a photographer, his subjects and a Twilight Zone-esque mystery.  Interesting, excellent.

3.)   "The Substitute" - A middle-aged man's former classmate from thirty years prior shows up - just as strange he was back then - and unsettles the man anew.  Good, pop culture-referencing read.

4.)   "Eternal/Love" - Intriguing tale about a couple who test the bonds of death - or its lack - and love.  Excellent, dramatic read.

5.)   "Final Processing" -  Satisfactory and tone-consistent dénouement to Lindqvist's novel Handling the Undead, where a young man (Kalle Lilljewall) and his girlfriend (Flora) try to relieve the suffering of the government-kept undead.  Good read that pushes all the right emotional buttons.

6.)   "Let the Old Dreams Die" - This secondary character sequel to Let the Right One In (a.k.a. Let Me In) reveals the fate of Oskar Eriksson and his "kidnapper" Eli.  Solid, well-written (if indirectly told) follow-up to a stellar novel.

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