Skip to main content

Koko

Seeing Peter Straub speak at Readercon this summer forced a revision of my reading list. Bump R. Scott Bakker down a few notches, bring Koko from the bottom of the queue.

Koko reminds me a lot of Thomas Harris' "Silence of the Lambs." Both slunk out of the same dank cave in 1988. Both stalk the same haunted, decrepit rustbelt scenery, and both track serial killers with an uneasy mix of sensationalism and clinical detachment.

Meeting for the purpose of visiting the Vietnam Mermorial in Washington DC, four veterans take time to consider the deaths of journalists in the far east. Each of the victims has been mutilated in the same fashion, each tagged with the killer's name: Koko. The four veterans, believing this killer a member of their unit, travel to Singapore, Bangkok and then back to the jungle of New York to track down the killer. Not to stop him, but to save him.

This synopsis leaves out the best parts of the book which are the slippery suggestions that Koko is not truly a person at all. Much like the haunting in Toni Morrison's Beloved, Koko exists in a twilight realm as a living ghost. A lethal killer, but also a symbol of the mutilations of war.

Where Silence of the Lambs became, well, Silence of the Lambs, a book and then movie with significant pop cultural impact - Koko has largely subsided into the horror market. Why? Harris' book is good, but Straub has a real gift for language, able to paint complex and fully rounded characters, and sketch with a very light brush strokes fine gradients of suggestion and dread.

Which is probably why Anthony Hopkins became Hannibal Lector and not Koko. Koko is not so much a mystery as it is a ghost story. Silence of the Lambs works because Clarice Starling catches Buffalo Bill. Order is returned to the world (OK, Hannibal Lector gets out but he likes Starling so she's probably fine.) Koko ends in disorder, like the dust settling down after a shell detonates.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Solemn Treasures

In Gilead, the transcendent novel by Marilynn Robinson, a 76 year old man confronts his impending mortality and the sense he cannot provide for his young son after he is gone. He had not expected to meet his son's mother in the twilight of his life, not expected to have a son. If he had, he tells his son in a lengthy letter forming the substance of Robinson's novel, he might have set something by for him. Some sort of savings or investment. It pains him to think that when he is gone, all that he can leave are a few words.

What words.

As mentioned in a previous post, I set myself on the task (is that really the right word here? maybe endeavor would be better) to read as many of the 'great novels' of this young century as I could. After reading Hillary Mantel's "Wolf Hall-" which was also fantastic by the way - I made my way to Gilead. One of the many quietly strange things about this novel is that it's actually the second novel from Robinson. Her first…

New Story Acceptance!

As mentioned last week, I do have a bit of happy news to share. I am excited to announce that my story, "The Yuru-chara of Hector, NY," will appear in the next issue of the Electric Spec Magazine at the end of the month. I am tremendously excited about this for a few reasons:
Electric Spec is simply awesome. I've been reading this magazine for awhile and never been disappointed by a single story. To have one of my stories selected is beyond humbling. I can only give an earnest thank you to Lesley L. Smith for choosing the story.I love this story dearly. It has one of my favorite protagonists and shows in the clearest way I've managed where I'd like to go with my fiction. Electric Spec also gave me the chance to reflect on this story and its meaning in a guest blog which I am sharing below. Without being spoilery, this blog expresses some of what resonates about "The Yuru-chara of Hector, NY," with me. Guest Blog at Electric SpecAt the moment, I think the…

"The Yuru-chara of Hector, NY" is now available!

My new story, "The Yuru-chara of Hector, NY," is now available in the current issue of the Electric Spec magazine. I'm very proud that this story is getting published at Electic Spec for the simple reason I've been reading the magazine for years, dreaming of the day I might get a story published there. Well, it's finally happened.

The story of "Yuru-chara" is pretty simple: a young girl wakes up to discover that her old virtual friend, a seven-foot-tall yellow monster named Tama Bell, has come to life. While navigating through waves of other virtual creatures released through a world-wide hack, the young heroine tries to come to grips with her responsibility to her forgotten friend and the losses inherent to growing up.

I hope that you enjoy my story and that you give the other stories a try. They're awesome!

Thank you for your continued support.