I seem to have stumbled into a tradition here - around this time last year, I read and subsequently reviewed Mr. Millard’s rather good ‘Vinyl Destination’. Here we are, one year later, and ‘Larry’ has finally made it to the top of my TBR pile, after I picked up the paperback at Edge Lit.
Bloody hell, that was fun.
I think most of all, what I’d forgotten is just how ludicrously readable Millard is. His prose just zings, that’s all - conversational, broad, and bloody funny. I found myself tearing through the pages at an incredible rate. And he is funny - often giggle-out-loud funny, and occasionally put-the-book-down-for-a-second-until-I’m-breathing-properly-again funny. The tone and style is conversational - not a million miles away from the sly editorialising of Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett, actually - yet also infused with a genre awareness. It’s clear that Millard loves horror, knows it inside out - and is also aware of its flaws and absurdities. With ‘Larry’, we have what amounts to a damn near surgical dissection of the inherent flaws of the slasher movie. With jokes. Many, many jokes.
And I just adored it. Millard does occasionally break character and talk directly to the audience (though rarely, and somehow without annoying me, even though that’s normally a ‘fling-the-book-across-the-room’ offence for me) but for the most part here the commentary is provided within the story itself, either from the characters or by their circumstances. There are, of course, lots of in-jokes - the names of the unlucky teenagers holidaying at ‘Diamond Creek’ campsite will raise smiles of recognition for any child of 80’s horror - but the book does not rely on these, and indeed I think this book would be accessible and amusing to anyone with even the most passing of familiarity with slasher movies.
Don’t get me wrong - there’s plenty of big, broad humor here, and it’s about as far from pretentious as it’s possible to be. But I also think this book is actually a fair bit smarter than the surface may suggest. It’s certainly funny on a number of levels, fantastically paced, and left me in a far better mood than I had been when I picked it up.
I don’t think you can fairly ask for more than that, to be honest. Lovely work.
Between 1975 and 1978, Larry 'Pigface' Travers terrorised Camp Diamond Creek, killing more than a hundred horny, stoned teens, hacking them to death with his axe (the machete was already taken by some hockey guy over in New Jersey), and making a general nuisance of himself. Life couldn't have been better for a psycho slasher. But in '78, after being outwitted by that year's 'final girl', Pigface found himself trapped (and a little bit on fire). Presumed dead, Larry Travers disappeared, but his legend lived on. It's 2014. Now living in the woods with his overbearing - and slightly antique - mother, Larry's old enough to play bingo and enjoy jigsaw puzzles without feeling guilty. But the urge to kill has returned, and Larry thinks he still has what it takes to be a homicidal lunatic. Pigface is back. Trouble is, he's not as young as he used to be...
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