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Story Time Review by
Judi Rohrig
by Michael Laimo. Introduction by Gary A. Braunbeck
Prime 2001 - $30.00
HC - 144 pages
ISBN: 0966896890
Cover art by Ron Leming

If Michael Laimo's first collection, DEMONS, FREAKS, AND OTHER ABNORMALITIES (Delirium) presented scary-assed monsters without, then Laimo uses his newest offering, DREGS OF SOCIETY, to allow the reader to consider the monsters within. His initial entry into the cockfight of internal fear-wrestling is "The Smart Society" which has been recommended for a Bram Stoker. Talk about a jumping off point! This carefully woven tale delves into the pits of man's greed. It begins innocently enough with Gary Riddell's simple quest for a shallow relationship with a neighbor woman. "Simple" quickly descends into deeper tangle of temptation:

"Imagine if you will living a life that allows you to absorb and recall all information you encounter, a life that allows you to understand anything at all by simply looking at it. In this life you can never forget what you have learned and be able to recall every single bit of information that you enter into yourself at the drop of a hat. You can retain a photographic memory able to record even the most minute details. You can become a living, breathing computer able to eschew any piece of information you posses at will. No more forgetting, no more slow tedious learning sessions, and no more floppy disks. You, Gary Riddell, lifelong loser, can store and recall information with the same capacity of any electronic brain. You, Gary Riddell, can become a human supercomputer."

Will Gary resist? Would you?

It's the presentation of honest dilemmas that catch the theme in a number of Laimo's stories, driving them all too close to home, asking too many pointed questions.
"Tapestry" follows the shadows of a tattoo artist; "Standing Silent Without Heart" offers out an Eddie and the Dreamers-like tale; "Big Bertha" is an eerie consideration of the cost of being locked in a giant freezer; "Sweet Dreams" plays with an unexpected twist.
"Last Breath" gets my vote for one of the best opening lines: "...kill her..." On the other hand, "Milk" was just too much of a stretch for my imagination even though it was a lovely, sweet story.

His "Anxiety" which appeared first online at HorrorFind might come closest to revealing Laimo's purpose in all his tales:

"Everyone fears. Of thunderstorms, of snakes, of heights, of the dentist, of the future, of failing, of dying. Fear is an internal alarm, a system to alert us of harm's way so we can take self protection. But some people have powerful fears and anxiety of things or situations that are not immediately dangerous and which take possession of the person's body, mind, feelings and actions. For most, it is terrifying. To others, an electrifying exploration into uncharted lands."

It's those "uncharted lands" that Laimo lets us explore rather fully in the last of the stories, the ones that collectively form The Golden-Eye Trilogy. Here Laimo takes us into another world, but one so close it's like walking on the edge of a knife. But again, he lets the horror stay within.

All in all, it's a fairly strong collection of tales finely and sensitively told. He indeed does present the DREGS OF SOCIETY. The sad part is how much these people look like us. Well worth four introspective Bookwyrms.


This review copyright 2002 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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