Rebecca gives us a unique and sometimes sideways look at Men in the pages of Vile Men. From the first story Paper Bag Princess Rebecca gets right to business telling us how this character really feels. She has no self-worth and thinks she is so ugly she has to wear a paper bag for a guy to have sex with her. She makes sex an impersonal act and lets guys treat her like she isn’t a person, merely an object . She has faces she puts on the paper bag for the men so they can imagine she is something special. Sex and Insecurity, a bleak outlook on life, and not knowing how to cope are some of the themes in the pages of Vile Men. Vile men has the horrors that come from within, not the kind thrust upon us or commonly found in more traditional horror books and movies.
Vile Men takes a look at the horrors that come from how we treat ourselves and others. The way we tell ourselves it’s OK or how we justify our actions. This is shown in perfect clarity with the character Jessica in the short story Blue Hawaii. She is a damaged girl who lets her neighbor treat her like she is less of a person because of a birth defect. The story Tourist is an introspective short story about the burdens that pull at all of us. The weight that doesn’t stop, the same weight we have to carry all day, every day. Angie is struggling each day to find her way and apprehensive to connect with men. Her filter came early in life and never quite left her. I really like the viewpoint Rebecca tells the stories through her characters. It makes you step back and think and wonder what your life has done to you, or what you have done to others. People wrestling with doing the right thing but sometimes they can’t control the urges.
Rebecca does a great job peeling back the outer layer of humanity and showing us what we’re made of. The broken or sometimes worn down person we try to hide for the sake of others. Vile men encompasses the dark side of ourselves and if we look hard we can see a small part of one of these characters within us. Rebecca touches on a wide range of subjects, topics we don’t like to think about or ones we feel shouldn’t be discussed. Thinspiration was a story I thought I had figured out but I wasn’t even close. A woman at a rest stop is car jacked and probably thinks she will be assaulted. As far as she was concerned she was but not in a sexual fashion. Rebecca can set up a short story so quickly and really give the reader a story that makes you think about the meaning found between the lines. I found a few themes in the stories that where really interesting and it made me wonder who, or what inspired these stories.
Self-doubt and insecurity, social anxiety, strange sexual attraction and arousal all are here. The Horror isn’t the traditional style but believe me it will make your skin crawl. Your chest will constrict and put images in your head you can’t unsee. This was my immediate thought when I read Better Places. A women looking for safety during the apocalypse finds just the opposite. The man says she can stay if she does as he says but soon she figures out taking her chances with zombies would be better. The characters in Vile Men often wish they could open a door and escape the moment their stuck in. I think this is a feeling we all have felt, I know I have. There are so many very, very good stories in this debut collection and it was really a great book. This is one author I look forward to reading again soon.
Length: 170 Pages
Publisher: Dark House Press
Release date: September 8, 2015
Blurb: Vile Men is a collection of fourteen short stories that are transgressive in nature, filled with heart and emotion, leaving you sweaty and spent, your heart pounding in your chest. Stolen moments on the subway, fear of intimacy, sexual perversion and dark fears come home to roost all unite in a powerful mixture of literary fiction, contemporary fairy tales, and late night confessions. Shocking and yet touching, unnerving and yet brutally honest, Rebecca Jones-Howe is an emerging author that you’ll want to keep an eye on.
Rebecca Jones-Howe, Biography-
Rebecca Jones-Howe lives and writes in Kamloops, British Columbia. Her work has appeared in PANK, Pulp Modern and Punchnel’s, among others. Her first collection of short fiction, Vile Men, is available from Dark House Press. She can be found online at rebeccajoneshowe.com
Connect with Rebecca Jones-Howe at the following links