Stephen Graham Jones has this thing where you start reading innocently enough and then you find yourself right in the middle of the book without knowing when you fell. You’re reading a book...you pick it up, flip past the title page and the other extraneous bullshit, and start reading. And usually you put the book down at a stopping place and say, “Pretty good” or “Not bad” or even, “Screw this...”
But when you pick up a book by Dr. Jones, it’s you. It becomes you. Or you become it.
How long does it take? Ten minutes? Five minutes? Five pages? Ten pages? I don’t know because for me, it’s instantaneous. A mid-60’s, Irish/English, New England-born and raised, guy who’s lived his entire adult life in Tennessee is “all of a sudden” a 15 year old Indian kid living in a modular home in the middle of nowhere. Or, in the case of Mongrels, a kid who thinks he’s a werewolf. Or, in the case of any of his other books, somebody who thinks, like the Kurt Vonnegut story, “Who Am I This Time?”
This novella is visceral; raw to the point of being almost painful. It’s also good; good to the point of being painful.
I suppose a synopsis is in order, but it really won’t help--and you can find one on Amazon or a million other places.
What you need to know, though, is that Mapping The Interior is a ghost story, a horror story, a story of growth, an insight into Indian society and culture (I believe Dr. Jones prefers “Indian” so that’s what I’m using), a story of family, and a thriller.
I am always amazed at his ear. I read his dialogue and in my head I know why the character skipped a pronoun or an identifier--because that’s the way the character speaks! I know who the character is thinking or talking about before he even tells me--because that’s the way the character thinks! His ability to get inside his characters is as close to perfect as it can get.
With a conscious effort, I’m going to find something Stephen Graham Jones wrote that I hate because I’m too old for this fan-boy shit, but you know...I just don’t see it happening.