Wednesday, April 06, 2005

I heard about Kings of Infinite Space by James Hynes on one of the lit blogs I read. Apparently Hynes is known for his horror stories set in the world of academia. With this one he follows one of his characters from a previous short story out of that world and into the world of civil service office temping. Paul, a former professor, has fallen down the economic ladder. Hard. He's also being haunted by the cat he killed. When he encounters a homeless man dressed as an office worker who asks him, "are we not men?" it begins an adventure that combines the humor of Office Space with the horror of Stephen King.

It's a great set-up and one that promised to be satirical and entertaining. Unfortunately there were no surprises in the book. I saw every plot twist coming a mile away and while the book was fun, either it telegraphed everything or wasn't that original in the first place. Paul was too annoying and wish-washy and his total acceptance of the ghost cat but his refusal to believe anything out of the ordinary about Boy G or his coworkers seemed forced. There were characters and scenes I enjoyed like Callie, Charlotte the ghost cat and how she haunted Paul (the ever present smell of cat pee in his apartment, controlling the tv to show Born Free, old Morris the Cat commercials, and Thomasina), and the final battle among the cubicles (Charlotte's appearance excepted). Basically, it had the potential to be a fantastically scary and funny book but disappointingly settled instead on vaguely amusing, predictable horror.

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