Friday, October 16, 2020

Review of Out of Body by Jeffrey Ford

Jeffrey Ford is quietly one of the tip-top best fantastika writers of the 21st century. The originality of imagination, the sense of ebb and flow of story, and the understanding of what makes a story truly a story, I buy read his books sight unseen. And this is despite Ford’s work with Seeming to have a contract with the publisher to deliver a novella every year or two, these stories tend much closer toward genre mediocrity (aka “broader appeal”). But he is Jeffrey Ford, and thus I read 2020’s Out of Body.

As hinted in the title, Out of Body is about out-of-body experiences, particularly one had by a small town librarian who begins to experience the phenomenon after being first-hand witness to a tragedy. His experiences arising at night after falling asleep, he goes out into the night world, there to learn who and what else is “alive” there. More than he ever expected, his out of body experiences lead him into the middle of a situation he would have far rather slept on.

As I guessed, Out of Body is very much in the wheelhouse of Ford’s past productions for The storyline, while having a major twist at the mid-point which escalates nicely through the climax, is overall tried and true horror. And the prose, oh Jeff, what happened? The writing is uninspired, at times even flat, leaving me to wonder if it was deliberate, or a sign of something else?

In the end, if the reader enjoys mainstream horror/fantasy, then likely Out of Body will be of interest. In and unto itself, Ford spins a nice story that really takes flight at the midpoint. It’s only when placed alongside the century+ of other such material that it falls gently back to middle of the road. For readers who require dynamic prose that enhances storytelling, you will need to look elsewhere. For those not bothered by flat diction, nothing will be noticed.

@Jeff, I love your work, and I respect that publishing work in venues like allows you to continue to do what you do best, just this type of story is not my preference. I hope that it will be for other readers.

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