Book Review : William Pauley III - Mr. Malin and the Night (2016)
Most authors cringe at the idea of their first book. Good or bad, first efforts usually pale in comparison to more recent work if an author has diligently striven to become a better storyteller. That's why something like William Pauley III's Mr. Malin and the Night: Ten YearAnniversary Edition, is special. Published by Carrion Blue 555, a new press that seems to be hell bent on putting out great, unique books that defy classification, this anniversary edition of Mr. Malin and the Night comes with a special introduction, a in-depth interview with the author, and afterword. Despite all these extras, what matters is that the narrative itself was clear indication of a powerful new voice making an opening statement.
The plot of Mr. Malin and the Night is deceptively simple: Vincent Malin is given a chance to avenge his death. Fortunately for the reader, things aren't as easy as they sound. For starters, there's the whole business of being dead and remembering what happened. Also, the entity offering the opportunity obviously operates under his own agenda. Also, in order to accomplish his task, Vincent is given a new vessel, but it turns out to be the chemically loaded body of a recently deceased junkie. If Vincent can control that wrecked body and remember everything that lead to his current predicament, there's still the issue of vengeance, and that might be much more difficult than he could have imagined.
The first thing that should be said about this novella is that it moves forward at breakneck speed. It was clearly written by a new author trying to say something, and that passion can be felt in both the staccato style and the stripped down prose that hurls readers forward at all times. This is a narrative that was first concocted and then hacked and slashed into a shorter, meaner, much slicker version of itself. The economy of language is great and there's no filler, so all you get is crucial to the story.
Malin is a dark character packed with flaws, anger, and regret. Mr. Malin and the Night walks the interstitial space between horror, experimental fiction, and a really gruesome and emotionally gritty love story. This combination gives the narrative a depth that's rare in first novels and eventually becomes one of the elements that make a statement about Pauley's talent.
How many times have I sat here searching for the right thing to say?
The right thing to do?
Who the hell am I?
Who is Vincent Malin?
These are the questions I am constantly asking myself.
Really it doesn't even matter.
I know the answers aren't coming tonight.
There is nothing I can think bout that I haven't already thought a million times before.
My mind is a flooded sea of unanswered questions.
I'm sick of searching.
I'm tired of trying.
Fed up with mistakes.
Mr. Malin and the Night's oppressive, sad, paranoid atmosphere and its focus on revenge, anger, guilt, and the importance of memories make it a narrative that deserved to be offered to a new generation of readers after a decade. Pauley has gone on to become one of the most recognizable voices in weird literature and his previous release, Hearers of the Constant Hum, is a novel all fans of outre literature should check out. Before they do that, however, there's this nasty little story that dares to go into some awful places and does so with a style that resembles a machine gun in terms of speed and delivery. The extra content and the outstanding illustrations by artist Zack Rezendes are just the icing on the cake.