A Revolution Against Normalizing

A Revolution Against Normalizing
A review of Tyler Keevil’s “The Weeds and the Wildness” in Strangers Among Us: Tales of the Underdogs and Outcasts edited by Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law (Laksa Media Group, 2016)
By Derek Newman-Stille

Tyler Keevil’s “The Weeds and the Wildness” is a tale of resistance to conformity, a revolution against the dangers of enforced normalcy. Keevil explores the perspective of a gardener who is uncomfortable in social situations. He operates primarily from his house and sells products for gardeners through the internet. However, he soon notices that people around them are changing as their lawns are changing. After all, suburban bliss is just a lawn covered in turf away. As people’s lawns are being forced into conformity, with their flowers cut down and replaces by lawns of the same green grass and their hedges trimmed into the same ubiquitous shapes, people begin to lose what makes them unique, showing the same sets of blank stares and expressionless smiles. Every time the white vans go by, another person and lawn are converted into conformity.

Keevil’s “The Weeds and the Wildness” is a call out to ABnormalcy, to wild, uncontrolled spaces that allow nature to flourish and resist the controlling hand of civilization. Keevil raises questions about the power of “normalcy” to keep people acting and performing life in the same way, removing their uniqueness and “The Weeds and the Wildness” invites questions about how to maintain one’s difference in a civilization that prefers sameness.

To discover more about Strangers Among Us, visit http://laksamedia.com/strangers-among-us-an-anthology-with-a-cause/

To find out more about Tyler Keevil, visit http://www.tylerkeevil.com

Dark Communities

A review of Craig Davidson’s Sarah Court (ChiZine Publications, 2010)
By Derek Newman-Stille

Cover photo of Sarah Court courtesy of ChiZine Publications

Cover photo of Sarah Court courtesy of ChiZine Publications

Lives intersect in weird and complex ways. The notion of community itself is an interweaving of disparate yet intertwined stories, pulled together by dark threads… because there is something dark about suburban communities. They are built of bricks and blood mortared together by darkness and Craig Davidson’s Sarah Court removes those bricks one by one to reveal the way that communities are built of secrets and suburban streets are tarred with shadow.

Sarah Court follows the lives of a group of neighbours as they proceed through scarred, painful, damaged lives: parents pushing children past the point of their body’s tolerance, foster parents pushing their charges into sociopathic states for their own dark desires, and a man addicted to increasingly dangerous displays of daredevilry. Davidson illustrates the manipulative currents flowing through any community.

Even things like self-sacrifice don’t create positive change. Good intentions brick the path to hell, and hell is as close as the rest of suburbia. The real horror of the novel is made up of people who mean well. Davidson reveals the dark aesthetic underlying the real world.

To discover more about Sarah Court, visit ChiZine Publications’ website at http://www.chizinepub.com/books/sarah-court.php

To discover more about the work of Craig Davidson, visit his website at http://www.craigdavidson.net/ .