Back Roads & Frontal Lobes reminded me a lot of a collection I read many years back, and I was reminded of that other book because of its utter uniqueness. Like the author of that book, there is no one else writing quite like Brady Allen. His stories are amalgamations of the classic weird tale, each containing something archetypal of the genre but each equally new. His is a voice you won’t find anywhere else, and that’s something truly special. His stories brim with originality and a sense of place as strong as anyone in the genre, including the author of that collection I was reminded of while reading Back Roads & Frontal Lobes.
The places and people in this collection are palpably real, as if Brady scooped them straight out of Southern Ohio and put them on paper. The people are fully realized and so much a part of their environment that one cannot exist without the other. Stories like Slow Mary or The Ballad of Mac Johnstone could have stood with the best of the Twilight Zone. One can almost picture Serling introducing each. Others like Not Over Easy and Burger offer something a little rougher around the edges and full of an existential angst that you’d expect from Thomas Ligotti, but Ligotti could not have written these. They are too immediate for him.
Others, like Bear Hogan Walks the Sky, offer something entirely new to the genre and are almost unclassifiable—another reason for my comparison to the author of that collection I haven’t yet named. But the star of the collection is Back Roads and Frontal Lobes, which combines Brady’s sense of place and yet displacement, his great characterization, a plot that is almost a genre unto itself, and an existential question worth exploring. It, like most of the stories in this collection, is not simply a horror story to read and toss off after you’ve finished. Brady’s stories give you something to think about, some serious question or idea to ponder—the way the best always do.
Back Roads & Frontal Lobes is a first collection from an important new force in horror literature, as was the collection I still haven’t named. It gives voice to a people and an area that hasn’t been represented—or at least not as fully as Brady does it here. Like Joe R. Lansdale in By Bizarre Hands, Brady is creating something entirely unique in horror literature, while giving voice to an area that is both real and almost mythical in the writing. What Lansdale did for East Texas, Brady is doing for Southern Ohio, and what Lansdale did for horror, Brady is doing again. This is a collection not to be missed. Highly recommended.
Back Roads & Frontal Lobes
by Brady Allen
Post Mortem Press
$16.00 Trade Paperback
$4.99 Kindle Edition