Monday, December 17, 2012
METAFICTION FROM HORROR'S FINEST: A review of Brian Keene's SUNDANCING
Many of you are horror fans, so you probably have intimate knowledge of Brian Keene’s body of work, especially his novels published through the now-defunct (and treacherous) Dorchester Publications. You might even be aware of his reprints and new fiction with the wonderful Deadite Press. A select few might even know all about his Maelstrom offerings, but of those select few, how many of you actually bought them?
Well . . . 300 of you to be exact. They’re of a very limited run. So far, there have been three Maelstrom deals, and the most recent consists of a collection of stories by Geoff Cooper, a print edition of Keene’s online novel, DELUGE, and SUNDANCING.
If you’ve come to SUNDANCING expecting more of the Keene-brand horror, you’re bound to be disappointed. If you’re looking for something more along the lines of his HAIL SATEN essays, you’ve come to the right place. If nothing else, the cover image of Keene should give that away.
Right off the bat, he tells us that this is a fictionalized version of what really happened. However, as one reads the book, one rapidly comes to the conclusion that this is a completely true story, where the only fictionalized part of it is the change of names to protect the innocent, if by “innocent,” one means Keene himself, from lawsuits.
Many of you are probably aware of how badly the last couple of years went for Keene. This book finds him at the very bottom of his well of misery, desperate for money that would pay the bills and keep food on his family’s table. (Remember, when Dorchester went south, they owed Keene about half his year’s earnings, and they eventually settled everything by giving the rights to his books back to him, hence Deadite’s reissue of his work.) However, something magical happened: not only did he sell the movie rights to his novel, GHOUL, the movie actually got made, and Hollywood sent him a big check (and it didn’t even bounce). Now, he has been invited out to the Sundance premier, and he’s decided to take his partner (horror writer Mary SanGiovanni) and a group of very loyal friends with him for a grand celebration.
What follows is an incredible story of love, anger, loyalty, suckfishery, heavy drinking, swindling, and stomping on the terra. At one point, Keene refers to himself as the lovechild of Richard Laymon and Hunter S. Thompson, and to those familiar with him, this is no exaggeration. As his adventures in Park City, UT, unfold, one can’t help but marvel at it. Like the time when Keene takes on Corbin Bernsen’s assistant and a WB executive on a shuttle bus. Or how about when he starts a snowball fight with MODERN FAMILY star Nolan Gould in the middle of the movie’s premier? Or best of all, how the hell did he manage to defeat a long standing unwritten rule of Sundance by filling half of the audience with his fans instead of the usual Hollywood suckfish?! That last one crowns the book, and it is a true testament to Keene’s relationship with his fans.
If you’re a member of the FUKU (and you know who you are), you need to read this book. Chances are good that you won’t get to, since there are only 300 copies, and it will never be reprinted (per the Maelstrom rules). Luckily, Keene fans are well known for their kindness and generosity (at least if you’re cool), so you can probably borrow it from one of them. Just be careful not to spill whiskey on it.