WTF Friday: Cold Calling by Haydn Wilks

Well, another WTF Friday is upon us, which means we once again turn the Ruins over to my dark half. As regular visitors will know, Foster Medina has a passion for messed up literary diversions - books that are bizarre, twisted, grotesque, and kinky - and he's only too happy to splatter them across the page.

Cold Calling was an odd little novella. A few pages in, and I honestly wondered what I was reading, and how long I would stick with it. That it was coarse and crude wasn't a problem, and neither was its total lack of tolerable (much less likable) characters. Instead, it was the staccato, stream-of-consciousness, rambling narrative that bothered me the most. It reminded me of authors like Ellis, Palahniuk, or Welsh. I've never finished a single novel by any of them, and I doubt I ever will.

What kept me reading was a shared sense of call center camaraderie and an honest curiosity about what made other reviewers so horribly squeamish and disgusted. And then, all of a sudden, Haydn Wilks drops a single, game-changing paragraph that's almost easy to miss. In fact, I was a few paragraphs past it before I started to question what was going on, how we got there, and what I missed.

Suddenly, what started out as a story of boring banality - a mind-numbing tale of a dead-end job, endless smoke breaks, annoying roommates, and internet porn - becomes something freakish and filthy. From that single paragraph arises a tale of murder, infanticide, cannibalism, and more. It's bleak, black humor, told with a bit of hidden wit, but it's also subject matter that will be distasteful to many readers. It's not just the story that changes, however, it's also the storytelling. It still has that rambling, stream-of-consciousness aspect to it, but it becomes less abrupt and more prolonged. Sentences become longer, thought begin to pile upon thoughts, and the short, 4-or-5 line paragraphs stretch out to fill a page. The story doesn't just get inside your head, it drags you inside the narrator's.

Cold Calling is a hard story to enjoy. In fact, if you take any enjoyment from it at all, then you should likely self-register with the authorities as a potential serial killer. It is, however, a storytelling effort to admire, a literary excursion that takes you far outside your comfort zone and then dumps you on the curb, naked, wounded, and scarred.

Kindle Edition, 89 pages
Expected publication: February 3rd 2017 by Dead Bird Press


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