Review: Back Roads and Frontal Lobes by Brady Allen
Back Roads and Frontal Lobes
$14.40; 285 pages; October, 2012
By Brady Allen
Post Mortem Press
Welcome to Stairway Falls, Ohio.
It’s a place where nightmares run wild, horror is on tap, and karma is right around the corner. It’s a cheap hotel room, a quiet diner, a sacred harmonica, and a dead dog on the side of the road. Stairway Falls is the wrong turn, the dead-end street, and the exit you weren’t supposed to take, but just couldn’t resist. It’s all those places that you like to think don’t exist, but are in fact right outside your door.
In 23 deliciously, twisted tales of horror, dark fantasy, and surrealism, Brady Allen welcomes us into a world where the unexpected is always lurking behind us. His stories are raw, unforgiving, and at times darkly comedic featuring characters that are lost—sometimes both physically and mentally—and struggling with their own set of demons. Sometimes they win, usually they lose, but either way, there’s never a shortage of pain, regret, and a tank full of bad memories to follow them across the state line.
Allen pushes readers out of their comfort zone with brutal, yet honest, language, and he’s not afraid to push buttons with sex, gore, and violence. Stories such as “Back Roads and Frontal Lobes,” “There Are No Hills,” “Praying,” and “Porno Psalmody” stand out as some of most cleverly written and disturbing tales I’ve encountered where the above vices are not used as enhancers, but rather as part of the horror. This helps to advance the themes of isolation and loneliness while guilt shacks up with lust, who leaves dear old despair to trail behind them and watch from the backseat.
Back Roads and Frontal Lobes is a collection of multi-genre stories that will take readers out for a drive in the country and then leave them there, stranded and looking for a way out. It’s a quiet spin in the dark as your soul takes the wheel, and with the windows down and the music up, it’s easy to find the pleasure in being alone, because when you’re out on the road, there’s no telling who you’re going to meet, and when you’re lost in your head, there’s no telling what you’re going to do. Maybe you’ll pick up a hitchhiker; maybe you’ll stop and take a moment to smell the road kill. Back roads have a way of changing people, of giving them too much time to think and reflect. Sometimes we find ourselves when we’re out there, and sometimes we find out we’re not the person we thought we were. Either way it’s a journey, but you have to be willing to accept that sometimes that journey is a one-way ticket straight to Hell. Life doesn’t always make sense, and more often than not, it’s the demons who show us what we’re really made of.
Now take a shot of whiskey and put out your cigarette.
It’s time to turn the page.
-Stephanie M. Wytovich