Sometimes the worst of us is the best we can do.
Meet James. Tactless, unbothered, and completely out-of-touch, James lives an uneventful life until his unemployment benefits run dry and he’s forced to retreat to the only place he has left to go: his estranged father’s place. Dad’s mobile home is nestled dark and dank inside a trailer park reserved for the worst of society. The park is meant to be a means of rehabilitation for people like James’s father, but its denizens have everything but rehab on their minds.
South of here, James will meet an eclectic cast of ne’r-do-wells: Tanya, his father’s down-on-her-luck neighbor; Brenda, the attention-starved single-mother-of-one who jockeys the register at the corner store; and Mallorie, our resident monster in mourning. New relationships will kindle while others burn to the ground. Some are lost, and few are saved. Either way, James must abide.
SOUTH OF HERE is a dissection of the opportunistic, the deviant, and the shamed. It is a study of the sociopaths we sweep under the rug, those we’d rather forget, the ones we hide in the shadows, out of sight, out of mind. This is humanity at its most solipsistic, naked, and darkly comic. It’s only up from here.
Title: South of Here | Author: Edward Lorn | Publisher: Lornographic Material | Pub. Date: 18 August 2020 | Pages: 96 | ISBN13/ASIN: B086WPDMMG| Genre: Horror, Dark Humor | Language: English | Source: Purchased | Starred Review
South of Here Review
“Pure trash. Probably one of the worst books I’ve ever read.” – Anonymous Reviewer
South of Here by Edward Lorn is a disturbing book that defies categorization. Many people will not see it as horror though to me it slots right into the tradition of emotional horror that grows out of real flesh-and-blood people. I think of terrific works like Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough or Dear Laura by Gemma Amor in a similar way. There is nothing supernatural about these stories, for the most part not lots of blood and gore, yet the authors convince you that these people doing horrible things or living in horrible conditions really exist. With South of Here I’m pretty sure I’ve met a few of them and so has Mr. Lorn. Early on we are told “He thought people were lazy while he collected unemployment.” I imagine almost all of us have met these people.
James is our hero, the main character, and a good guy. Well, he’s at least as good as we get, and he’s mostly not a bad guy. The story follows James as he meets people in and around the mobile home park where his father lives. James is couch surfing but the experience is nothing like college friends quietly crashing for a night or two. Everybody has needs, their own uniquely personal needs, and we get a clear look through those grimy windows. I, for one, will never think of a Coke bottle the same way. Imagine the 1-2% most deviant, poor, sad, and depressed part of society. Now imagine a story populated with only them. It is disgusting.
Amazon categorizes this work as dark humor and I agree. We get prose like “Brenda smiles and a whitehead at the corner of her mouth bursts. Blood and puss leak into the wrinkles of her lip.” Also “Is he retarded? The owner asked his father. His father shrugged. Probably. Who knows? He reads a lot so, probably.” We whipsaw between opening a door and truly disgusting behavior in the span of two sentences, sometimes one. I continually found myself laughing and wincing.
There is no story here, just life (such as it is) walking past James, night after night. Most of the scenes take place in the gloom, the atmosphere dark and dirty even when the sun is up. And yet the characters that appear on stage are so weird and horrible and believable that I never considered putting it down for a second.
And then something wonderful happened. At the very end of this short work all of the puzzle pieces snap together and the story is revealed. That is a fine skill in itself, but Mr. Lorn managed to not only hide the story but even that he was telling one at all. I didn’t spot the picture made by the pieces because I didn’t spot the pieces themselves. Terrific sleight of hand.
South of here is a dirty story of weird people committing brutal acts against themselves and others. It is also probably the best thing I’ve read all year. With all the warnings included above I can give this my highest recommendation.
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That’s a terrific review. I certainly won’t read the book, although I’d doubtless learn a lot from it. 🙂
Thanks Jemima. One Amazon reviewer stated it was his kind of work because you would either love it or hate it. At that point I think all the reviews were 5’s with one 1, so they were right on. Glad my review made that dichotomy clear, its definitly not for everyone!
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