The Monsters of Heaven

Nathan Ballingrud, "The Monsters of Heaven" in North American Lake Monsters (Small Beer Press: 2013).

Even in heaven there are monsters of a particularly insidious type, helpful in cruel and terrible ways. But it's the best we can hope for. 

This is one of my favorite stories from the book. It leaves my imagination stuck with disturbing, sick, and wet images of creatures not understood. The grief, sorrow, and confusion of Brian’s and Amy's lives are set against a backdrop of the supernatural, and the weird aspects of the story are somehow simultaneously subtle and striking. The horror hits home when you realize the mundane aspects of the story are just as confounding and scary as the supernatural one. 

The narrative brings to focus aspects of our humanity that are unique to us, but, at the same time, horrifying and pitiful: the power to imagine, to fantasize, to sublimate, to pull the wool over our own eyes just to have it continually ripped off to see the ugly truth of it all. We are violent creatures that lash out in impotence against the incomprehensible. 

Perhaps, my reading is overly pessimistic. What do you think?


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