I have just read two very different stories on the perception of social interaction yet equally horrifying in their own way. The title to these tales suggested something very different to what I read, so lets kick off with the first story…
Rattus by Simon Maginn
I’ll be honest, reading Rattus I had no idea where it was heading at first, it was still engrossing and I was eager to find out, whether this was done intentionally by Maginn I don’t know but it works. I could never quite suss David our character as to whether he was sociably shy or a creature of habit who was uncomfortable with ripples of change in his life with his partner Trinn, who leaves to work for 6 months overseas. This is his worst nightmare as he percieves that everything goes wrong when she is away.
David’s downward spiral is nothing short of shocking. What I loved about this story and character was how unpredictable it was that you simply won’t be able to put it down, its akin to watching an experiment of an animal being disadvantaged in some way in order to see how it could survive only its a spectator sport and we are the onlookers and yet we continue to read with morbid fascination to know what the outcome would be. The finale and David’s acceptance of his new life will get you thinking on about how one incident, one event can blur the line between being comfortable in your own skin to sentencing ones self to solitary confinement.
The Invisible Architect of Psychopathy by Gary Fry
Considering the title I was expecting a bloodbath of a tale yet it goes so much deeper than that. Kyle just want’s to fit in with the right crowd but coming from his dysfunctional background has made this a tricky task. Throw in some mental illnesses and a highly intelligent lad and you get a potent mix that can serve up a good horror story.
This story creeps up on you the more you read as Fry lets us peek into a brain we wouldn’t necessarily volunteer to delve inside. Kyle’s logic at times is sound although is actions and methods are somewhat questionable when pursuing his dream life. They say there is a fine line between insanity and genius and there is nowhere but here that this more true. What is scary however is that we can relate with Kyle in how we have taken a slightly different persona to fit in with the situation you find yourself within. Maybe it’s dropping a thick set regional accent when surrounded at a dinner table with more well spoken folk or agreed with someone on a subject you have no clue about just so you don’t look incompetent or stupid, obviously we don’t or at least I hope we don’t go as far as our Kyle, when his meticulous plan unravels and we see how far a dangerous mind will go to keep their delusion perfect.
The stories are fantastic, admittedly it was a hour after putting the book down that a light bulb flashed above my head and I saw the true meaning of the two writers intentions on the subject mentioned in the intro. How fragile is social interaction? Strip the tales down to everyday common people and we have the answer which is, very. Feral Companions is more accurate than I realized, either we slunk off away from thethrongs of life to where we are most comfortable no matter how strange this might look others like a solitary rat scratching round a back ally or we join the hordes ebbing and flowing through life making subtle changes to fit around each environment we find ourselves in like a vast number of rats running as one yet with each switching positions to suit all of them.
A definite worthy read so here is the links to find out for yourself: