Slush by Glenn Rolfe
Pulp. Sludge. Sluice.
Anyway you put it; slush is a gloopy mess that, when found, leaves you wishing that you had worn more sensible shoes. Rolfe’s Slush is a meaty mix of the authors various works. Flashy shorts, a couple longer short fiction pieces, and he even sneaks in some poetry to round out this eclectic collection that ultimately proves that Rolfe’s sensible shoes are quite filthy.
Slush begins with a nostalgic coming of age story about a group of friends who stumble across a cursed coin. Skull of Snakes isn’t the only coming of age story in this collection but it’s a perfect way to start off and give readers a taste of what the author is heaping on their plates. Some things are not meant to be found and Rolfe’s dark tale of innocence lost will leave you thirsty for more.
Rolfe’s stories bounce around amongst quite a few familiar tropes. The backstage pass to the obsessive killer in Sweet 16, the creepy farm kid with a strange appetite in Jackie Boy, and the angry stalker of a popular novelist in Ballad of the Best-Selling Author are all told with the author’s confident narrative and engaging voice. He shocks; he builds upon dread, and seeks revenge, at times, all in the same story; stacking his blocks before he attempts to pull the table cloth out from under them.
At his worst, Rolfe tells a fun story that moves along with good dialogue and entertaining characters, but at his best, he sinks his claws into your shoulders like a rabid howler monkey that hasn’t eaten since breakfast. Halloween Worm, a tasty balance to end this fine collection, is another coming of age tale with plenty of bait on its hook that will not only get you hyped up for Halloween, but may cause you to seek more from this author.
With twelve stories full of teenagers in tight corners, bullies, ignorance, jealousy, and acne, readers will be fair warned to watch where they step. And leave your sensible shoes at the door. (Cory Cline)