Review: Sick: An Anthology of Illness edited by John Edward Lawson

(Review for Bizarro Brigade.)

“Sick” is a concept that should be very familiar to writers of horror/bizarro fiction; if not, you may not be doing something right. (You, as an author of said fiction, should also be accused of being “sick” at least once. Whatever the intent, it should always be accepted as a compliment.) In SICK: AN ANTHOLOGY OF ILLNESS, editor John Edward Lawson compiles thirty-six stories that explore every facet of sickness–physical, mental, emotional, societal, political–with intriguing, disturbing results.

SICK features an array of strong, in more ways than one, tales, including Tim Curran’s “The Christ Machine” (featuring an unorthodox drug treatment program), Scott Christian Carr’s “The Garbage Eaters” (which charts a dumpster-diving cult’s apocalyptic rise), and Kurt Newton’s “Visits With Mother” (about a deadbeat son’s, uh, disintegrating relationship with his senile mom).

Humor is in no short supply here–witness Mark McLaughlin’s “A Night to Remember With Mocha Sumatra,” which bends the laws of time and space to present the profile of an intergalactic, multi-species porn star–but the anthology’s real standouts blend laughs and sickness to great effect. There’s Michael A. Arnzen’s “On the Filthy Floor” (want to know what hotel housekeeping really thinks of you?), Lawson’s own “Mouthful of Dust” (a genuine corporate hell and the disembowled demon goddess who inhabits it), and Vincent W. Sakowski’s “A Terrible Thing to Waste” (a brief but shocking bit of queasy outrageousness).

Like most multi-author offerings, SICK is a mixed bag (is that a bad pun in this context?) and all stories may not suit every taste, but the good far outweighs the mediocre in this book.

It also makes a perfect get-well gift.

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