Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review: The Fisherman

It's 6:00 and someone opened the trapdoor to heaven - the perfect time to write down my thoughts on John Langan's The Fisherman.

Yes, this is a cosmic horror novel, one of relatively few, considering the outpouring of short fiction in the genre. Its narrative structure, the telling of a story within a story, works particularly well in terms of conveying a sense of time long-passed, of leviathan forces beyond our knowledge waging cosmic war in the unobserved background, puny humans blissfully unaware.

But among us there are always those who notice the blurred edges and the things that live in them.

The Fisherman, aside from being an enormously addictive read, is a powerful example of the impact that the act of storytelling can have on our lives. Imagination, unrestricted by the forces of logic and rationale is what connects us to the Other. The Fisherman employs this link to enforce that we are inherently and inexorably drawn to what scares the shit out of us. That slumbering need to understand the darkness within while at the same time being repulsed by it. As Van Gogh is reported to have said, "The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore."

Biblical notes further underscore a sense cosmicism in Langan's novel and, for me at least, rendered the story more mythologically dense than would have, for example, purely Lovecraftian infusions. The latter is certainly present, too, perhaps no more so than in the title character; however, Langan portrays him with a sense of depth that eventually delivers an infinitely more humanistic climax than anything Lovecraft ever would have considered.

At its core, The Fisherman may intrinsically be about the horror of being human and everything this state of being entails. If you've never considered yourself a "horror" reader, this may be the book that changes your mind. And be prepared to put everything else aside once you start reading it.

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