Book Review : Jordan Krall - Beyond the Great, Bloody, Bruised, and Silent Veil of this World (2017)
Little known New Jersey-based horror/bizarro author Jordan Krall is one of these writers you either "get" or don't. And, obviously, most people don't, otherwise he'd be Clive Barker or something. Truth is, he's really a mix between avant-garde authors like Donald Bartheleme or Robert Coover and more classic storytellers like Barker or H.P Lovecraft. He's something new and no one seems to know what do to with him.
His latest book Beyond the Great, Bloody, Bruiser and Silent Veil of this World is an atomized mindfuck you can assemble in a hundred different ways, like a piece of Ikea furniture from hell, except it kind of makes sense however you put it together.
There are several fragments to Beyond the Great, Bloody, Bruiser and Silent Veil of this World. The first is a group of men being shipped to Mars for an obscure reason. There are suspicious patients taking pills for reasons they don't understand, a woman slowly drowning in her bathtub and even more than I won't spoil. This is a short book and part of the pleasure is to find how many layers are hiding under one another. Anyway, these people are all linked even if they don't seem like they inhabit the same universe. What the fuck is even going on?
Welcome to the soul-crushing world of Jordan Krall.
Many things are going on here. On the surface level, this is a... more or less straightforward science fiction ltragedy about a man on Mars and his wife on Earth. It's probably how Jordan Krall intended his novel to be read, but it's so fragmented and stingy on details that key elements could be interpreted allegorically. Elements such as Mars, for example. Are Barry and the other men REALLY going to Mars? There are a few details given on the culture there and a few scenes featuring a guy named Yesu that will make you think you're on Mars, but you're never 100% sure what to believe. Same thing for the spaceship that Barry fantasizes is a train. He's in such a weird psycho-chemical state of mind, is he really qualified to tell us what's real and that isn't?
I'm sure you're confused, but rest assured: confusion is a normal thing to experience when reading Jordan Krall. He doesn't write straightforwardly, nor wishes to. Beyond the Great, Bloody, Bruiser and Silent Veil of this World is an atomized puzzle for you to put together and I don't believe there's a wrong or right way to do it. Depending on which fragment you give the most credibility to, it's either a tragedy, a conspiracy theory or a gnostic manual. I might've completely missed the point of Beyond the Great, Bloody, Bruiser and Silent Veil of this World, but I've read it as an hybrid of these three forms, like I was reading through a prism that changed the meaning depending on the angle it filtered through.
I've enjoyed Beyond the Great, Bloody, Bruiser and Silent Veil of this World, but it is somewhat of an acquired taste. If you've just read Ben Bova or Andy Weir's The Martian and you're pumped for some more Mars novel, this is not for you. Jordan Krall doesn't write like anybody you know. He'll remind you of Coover and Barker, but also of Philip K. Dick, J.G Ballard and Robert Heinlein, all wrapped in one. Beyond the Great, Bloody, Bruiser and Silent Veil of this World is a genre novel for readers who are bored with conventions. Krall is before his time and this novel explores uncharted roads and new ways to tell stories. Powerful and intoxicating in its own weird way, like your first Tequila bender in Tijuana.