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Dirty Heads: A novella of cosmic coming-of-age horror Paperback – October 23, 2021
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The story of a boy who dreamed of becoming a man… But dreamed up a monster instead
You’re on the run. Marked. Don’t think about the kid you used to be when you’re homeless and dumpster-diving in the rain. Just eat whatever you find to keep your engine full. Because the shadow with too many teeth wants you tired.
You’re easier to catch when you’re tired.
It has hunted you since the summer of 1994, back when we confessed who we were through mixtapes. When every movie at the video store had dirty heads. You were thirteen and thought you knew who you were. Only the shadow with too many teeth knew you better. It still does. And it won’t stop. Not until you come home.
Back to where it all began.
Part cosmic horror, part coming-of-age monster story, DIRTY HEADS is a terrifying read from the author of HOUSE OF SIGHS, THE FALLEN BOYS, and A PLACE FOR SINNERS
- Michael Varrati, filmmaker
"Aaron Dries is a powerhouse in horror fiction."
- Kaaron Warren, author of The Grief Hole
"Instead of using ink, Aaron Dries fills his pen with residue that nightmares leave behind on the inside of your skull. If you love horror in its purest, most elemental state, you'll love his work."
- Attack of the Queerwolf! Podcast
"Aaron Dries writes horror that lodges in your gut and heart like shards of glass. Powerfully emotive, confronting, intense, and endlessly compelling."
- Alan Baxter, author of The Gulp
"An artist of the sublime, the surreal and the sickening, who paints with gore and splintered bone richly emotive portraits of trauma and personal tragedy."
- J. Ashley-Smith, author of The Attic Tragedy
About the Author
- Publisher : Black T-Shirt Books (October 23, 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 142 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0999451987
- ISBN-13 : 978-0999451984
- Item Weight : 6.1 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 0.36 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #354,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #3,376 in Supernatural Thrillers (Books)
- #13,917 in Horror Literature & Fiction
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on August 22, 2022
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Good horror writing tries to scare the reader, but also should get them to feel more than chills and actually think, in my opinion. Aaron Dries’s latest novella, DIRTY HEADS (2021; 142 pp.) does both. He gives readers a terrifying and eventually pernicious killing machine of a monster as well as a main character, Heath, who is both the book’s first-person narrator and on a journey through life the majority of Dries’s readers may never have experienced, but to which they can empathize.
DIRTY HEADS is, in many ways, a different kind of work from the author which is to his credit. The book is filled with ambiguity and is at times almost surreal. It is, to an extent, nearly an experimental example of story-telling. The book is laid out in a variety of fonts (hence, it is important to buy and read a print copy of the book and not an e-book version) and the chapters start at “Twenty” and countdown to “Zero,” a clear indication that the short novel is going to end in a cataclysmic fashion.
Following the opening of the book, Dries brilliantly provides readers a flashback to when Heath is thirteen and “it” all starts. He is a boy who haunts the video stores, perusing the VHS boxes from A to Z, making revised sketches of the cover art in his notebook for the boxes. With a younger sister, Dee, and only a few close friends, Heath lives a good life at home with his parents, but an awkward discovery in the floor of an abandoned truck and later an event with a girl he admires brings to the fore a monster. This is when the “monster” within Heath starts to become both a gruesome, almost cosmic reality, as well as a vivid metaphor for the boy’s sexuality. Although it appears obvious to a lot of his peers around him, and to Heath himself most likely, he is “different;” he is gay—something he has spent a good deal of time denying until he is forced to confront reality by the two events which haunt him. It is also at this point at which Dries gives his readers their most important assignment—they must think for themselves and be able to distinguish between the monster which is trying to destroy Heath and his family and the monster of Heath’s constant hunger and need for self-awareness and acceptance. Sometimes the monsters overlap, especially toward the end of the book.
Also a brilliant metaphor, Dries frequently returns to video tapes and the need (at the time) to adjust the tracking of tapes to clean the heads for a clearer picture (lucky is the younger reader who has not had to experience this kind of frustrating technology). Video tape tracking marks are even used to separate portions of the book (again, buy a paper copy of the book). Heath is in constant need of mental tracking adjustments to try to get a clearer picture of what he is experiencing.
In spite of the need to think and ruminate upon the content of Dries’s book, the prose is beautifully rendered, almost anxiety ridden at times, placing the reader into the sometimes-surreal worlds of the protagonist. The author’s story-telling is fast paced, mimicking the pounding heart-beat of the tale and its protagonist. Equally, his characters are distinctly drawn and very real-to-life.
After a cinematic, graphic conclusion likely to grab readers by the throat, in spite of the novel’s many cryptic, fretful-ridden, and downright shocking moments, DIRTY HEADS concludes on one, single hopeful note. DIRTY HEADS might not be for the horror reader who likes their horror and gore straight-up (no pun intended), without the Daliesque qualities and opaqueness, but picking up DIRTY HEADS is certainly worthy of the challenges the author provides and the rewards it delivers.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on August 22, 2022