"George the Baker" is a very strange story, but it is quite appealing, despite its lack of resolution. George (the baker) finds a strange creature—little more than a breathing, perspiring ball of flesh—and brings it to the bakery, where he attempts to figure out what it is. I quite enjoyed the style of this story, along with the loving description of the inscrutable creature.
"The Hills Are Alive" is a well-written story, but it didn’t quite work for me. I could not connect with the protagonist, his frustrated wife, or the mysterious woman who he meets during a walk. The woman is an artist, and she paints the house of the protagonist. The story is told in a measured voice, which is quite well-done; however, it created a distance between the story and the reader, and I found this lack of connection difficult to overcome.
"Huntin’ Season" is a tale of two men who alternately escape from, and hunt, gangs of vicious babies. This story left me a bit puzzled—judging author’s intent is always risky, but I’ll venture a guess that it was written for shock value, simply because I don’t see any other purpose in it. As such, it fails. It is not very shocking, although somewhat disgusting.
"Well Tempered" is a creepy little tale that plays on words, musical instruments, and children. It is understated and chilling. I don’t want to give any more away, but please read it—it is worth it.
"The Scariest Story I Know" provides an interesting twist on a ghost story. Three family members—a mother, a father, and a son—are separated by death. However, none of them is sure who is dead and who is pining in the empty house. A very well done, disturbing tale. The author did a wonderful job creating a sense of unreality that saturates this piece.
"New Science" is another disturbing but poignant story. Ben, the protagonist, visits Jayne (an old friend) who is dying. Ben meets Jayne to fulfill her last request, of sorts, and the climax of the story is moving. This piece is one of my favorites, because the relationship between Jayne and Ben is depicted without glossing over the terrible effects of cancer, and yet with sympathy. There is also a keychain with a genuinely creepy doll, who may or may not be responsible for Jayne’s illness.
"Soul Stains" is another well-written story that lacked an emotional punch. It is a fantasy tale, taking place in a rich, beautifully drawn semi-medieval milieu, and it deals with the fate of the tattoo artist whose enormous talent was mistaken for witchcraft. After his death at the hands of the townspeople, his creations start coming to life. This is an imaginative story, and the language is luxurious, at times bordering on overwritten.
"Grandma’s Two Watches" takes place in a kibbutz, and is told from the point of view of a young man whose grandmother always wears two watches, set to two different times. The mystery of the watches is soon eclipsed by the arrival of a UFO. Of course, the two events are connected. It is an enjoyable although predictable tale. The best part of it is the relationship between the grandmother and her grandson.
Overall, I found this issue of Nemo well worth a read. Compared to the earlier issues of the same publication, it seemed less wild and unpredictable, more settled into its voice—but still unique. I was pleased to see that Nemo’s editor keeps finding different and artful stories. All Nemo anthologies can be bought from Project Pulp, and I recommend getting all of them and reading them in sequence. And if you can, try not to look up the authors’ names n advance. Reading these stories blind is a novel and exhilarating experience.
Available through Project Pulp
Paperback: 78 pages
[Editor’s Note: As the authors of Nemonymous #5 will not be "denemonised" in a subsequent issue, the editor has revealed their identities in the Nemonymous topic of the Night Shade Books discussion forum.]