Wearing the Horns - reviewed

Cover by Frank BrunnerJust a few days ago (or last week when you read this), SBC Chief Editor Craig Lemon (or as I call him, ďThe LemonĒ) sent me a story written by Clifford Lawrence Meth called Wearing The Horns. Itís a trade paperback published by Aardwolf Publishing about a guy named Little Herb who spends his early adulthood years studying religion and being picked on immensely. As Little Herb grows up, his life continues to be filled with very few ups and plenty of downs. Moreover, the book is about the human psyche, and presents issues of whether religion gets in the way of human development or if human development can only be reached through religion. It also has a lot to do with the theory of ďthe hand youíve been dealtĒ. Little Herb has had it rough and is never able to break that cycle: Is it because of his religious beliefs or is he just not capable of turning the bad into something productive? Does his rotten, so-called life stem from the fact that he has a small penis?

The story is just amazing... Mr. Meth wrote a story that I couldnít turn away from, I started reading it and just couldnít stop, which was kind of bad being as how I read it on a computer screen, I may have suffered serious damage. I encourage everyone to read this book.If you donít Iím afraid something bad might happen, and do we really want that?

Josh Stone
Silver Soapbox

Poor little Herb Fishman. He doesnít seem to have much going for him: He's a Catholic who is often misread as a Jew, he's religiously confused, and his manhood lacks the proper proportions. While hanging out with his friends in Shaky Edís Billiard Hall, he meets his future wife, Barbara, a woman who thinks she is a Jew, but isnít.

Like Little Herb, Wearing The Horns is small but I was instantly drawn to the cover and the amazing illustrations by Dave "X-Men" Cockrum. And as I dug into Clifford Methís edgy read, I was delighted to see so much humor, intelligence and character packed into one novella. Methís raw story-telling style and vivid characters bring his novella to luminous life. While his honest and blunt religious views, which flow throughout the book, made me stop and think about how one-sided certain religious denominations can be, I also found myself laughing at Meth's wit. Maybe itís the Jersey theme, but Meth can be described as a literary Kevin Smith, and thatís an instant 5-star rating.

Stephanie Simpson-Woods

It's always a pleasure to trip over a familiar name in the writing game. I first came across Cliff Meth's back in 1977 when he was 16 years old and involved with a comics fanzine called Fan-Media which later became The Fan Guide. Both of those zines were pretty ballsy publications and for that reason his name stuck with me. You'll find those two zines as well as others listed elsewhere in Lulu Review's vintage fanzines and the connection gives me no better reason to review Meth's new book, Wearing the Horns.

Horns is the latest Meth offering from Aardwolf Publishing in a line of books stretching back to Crib Death & Other Bedtime Stories (1995). But Horns proves that Meth's come a long way indeed since his fanzine days and become a damned fine writer along the way of unusual tales.

Horns is composed of three tales. The book takes its name from the first of these. Meth is a superb stylist throughout and uses his words like bullets from a machine gun. His tales are told in a direct manner, pulling you deeper into the hell that is the life of the story's protagonist, Herb Fishman. Meth's humanity is so right on as to be painful at times. If you can't identify with Herb Fishman or haven't felt his pain and frustrations, you haven't lived.

All of the characters in Horns are finely drawn with far less padding than most writers foist off on the reader of this kind of fiction. The interaction between the characters rings true and stays that way right through to the end... nary a cardboard cut-out to be found in the lot. Which is not to say there are no surprises along the way -- just when you think you've got the characters nailed, they come at you from another angle and you discover you didn't know them that well at all. It doesn't get much better than that.

The last of the three stories, and the shortest, is "Pack Dem Balls in Ice" -- in my opinion, the singular best story in the book. But a difficulty arises in trying to describe it.

Dave Cockrum (from Marvel's X-Men) pitches in with six beautiful pencilled drawings to accompany Meth's writing. For icing, there's a great Frank Brunner (Dr. Strange) cover.

You can't go wrong picking up a copy of Wearing the Horns. Meth's writing is just too damned good not to be read.

(c) Lari Davidson, The Lulu Review, 2003

Wearing The Horns is one of the most outrageous books you will EVER read. -- Peppi Marchello

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