Once in awhile, I am lucky enough to run across a piece of work that not only touches my heart, but makes me think, and think hard. “Vacation” by Jeremy C. Shipp is one such book.
It’s marketed as horror, but trust me when I tell you that you’ve never read a horror book like this. It’s so much more than that. It’s layered with meaning and thought-provoking social themes, wrapped up in a kind of twisted love story, delicate like a baklava pastry with substantial walnuts of thought with a drizzle of honey to make it all very tasty.
Bernard Johnson is an English professor, and embarks on a once-in-a-lifetime Vacation subsidized by the government. What he learns about himself and his environment has far-reaching effects. Nothing is what it seems; the fabric of his unreality is re-woven into a new reality and the journey is fascinating.
Every chapter opens up a different line of thought, a unique perspective on the world as a whole and society in general. Shipp’s unusual vision of what makes this fictional civilization tick bears a striking resemblance to the world in which we live – and it isn’t pretty. It isn’t pretty, but every word shines with a truth that’s hard to ignore.
Shipp’s outlook and message might be difficult to stomach, but then, most hard truths are. His creative prose and singular subject matter combines horror, humor, and insight in a way that is most unusual from anything else I’ve read. Johnson is a sympathetic hero without being anything close to perfect, but who loves a perfect hero? His growth as a person is reflected in the choices he makes toward the end of the story, and while not all the loose ends are tied up in a pretty bow, it makes the story resonate that much more.
“Vacation” is not an easy read. It’s not a comfortable read. It’s a challenging read, and will stay with you long after you read the last page – much like baklava stays on your hips long after it’s eaten. This is one story that will make you think long and hard about your place in the world, the consequences of your choices, and how society and government plays a part in your life whether you realize it or not.
Jeremy C. Shipp has written an evocative and exciting literary adventure. Take a trip with him – you will never have a more unusual, mind-blowing, and illuminating vacation.
Stay tuned for an interview with the talented, wild, and crazy Jeremy C. Shipp. You can find his novel, “Vacation”, for sale on Amazon on the widget to the right.
If you’ve enjoyed this review or it has been helpful to you, consider making a donation. Thanks!