Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sun review

And here's the Sun review, which is not online as the Sun is not an online newspaper....


DARK CITY

SUBTITLED ‘Psychotic and other twisted Malaysian Tales,’ this is a selection of short stories verging on the macabre. The author, who uses the pseudonym Xeus, scratches the soft underbelly of Malaysian life to reveal a seething mass of barely concealed dread.

There are 12 stories in Dark City (RM29.90) which explore everything from serial killers and ghosts, to terrorist cells and child kidnapping. Each contains a twist; some more apparent than others, while a couple are utterly shocking.

The first story, Psychotic, seems to be inspired by the Canny Ong murder. A waitress at a pub is kidnapped and taken for a terror ride, before being raped at a cemetery as a prelude to murder. At times, I found it painful to read the descriptions; Xeus (a fitting definition for the name in the Urban Slang dictionary is “sadistic genius that tortures people for fun”) milks the scene to the point of nausea, which I suppose is the point.

My favourite is The Resistance, about a terrorist cell that gathers to launch its fiendish plan against mankind. This remarkable story has all the elements of s suspense thriller as meticulous plans are put into play and a gathering storm sweeps through the narrative. The secret weapon revelation (though it is not explicitly stated) is, pardon the pun, a real killer.

Monster, on the other hand, is a tale that carries a lot of weight as it deals with events presently in the news. The plot concerns the only child of an ordinary middle income family – a spoiled brat – who is kidnapped and held for ransom. The family scrambles to pay the money but then something goes terribly wrong….

Overall, a good read. Some stories telegraph their ending, but remain entertaining. Everything is familiar, yet not so. This is KL as you fear to imagine it. – N. Shashi Kala

8 comments:

Ted Mahsun said...
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Ted Mahsun said...

I agree. The Resistance is probably the best of the lot, though I rather like Incident at Monkey Gorge too. I found Grave Error the odd one out though... I kept wanting to skip ahead because it was so slow in comparison to the other stories!

I like how certain characters have cameo roles or are mentioned in passing in the different stories. Drives home the point that all these stories take place in the same "dark city".

Anonymous said...

Xeus, any chance we can have a sample of one of your stories here? I'd love to have a read before I buy or are we talking legal minefield etc. here

David

Xeus said...

Glad you enjoyed some of it, Ted! My fave is the Resistance. Though one man's meat is another's poison. If you recall the NST review, the reviewer just didn't 'get' the Resistance. She said it went round and round. (I still don't think she got the twist.)

The Resistance was also a story I offered to the Book project, but had to withdraw it within two months of submission when I signed with the publisher.

I decided to do the cameos because I was extremely struck by Sin City, where characters one meets in passing are delved into deeply later.

Lydia Teh said...

Xeus, can't wait to get a copy (remember the exchange). Am bracing myself for disturbing moments.

Xeus said...

Dear David,

we are talking legal minefield...:) I suggest browsing through a bit of it in a bookstore like MPH or Borders...

Dear Lydia, yes, I remember :) Looking forward to meeting you. It's not 'that' disturbing :)

Yvonne Lee said...

Hi! I love Scarlet Woman most. So shocking, the ending. Yes, it's a page turning kind of book!

Xeus said...

Thanks Yvonne. I must confess I laughed out loud reading certain chapters of your book also :) Your photo in Her World looks very nice. But Cecilia didn't have a photo? She came for the shoot?