Growing Things by Paul Tremblay
William Morrow (July 2, 2019)
352 pages; $25.99 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie Hartmann
“I’m terrible at remembering plot and character specifics…if the story is successful, what I do remember and will never forget is what and how that story makes me feel.”—Paul Tremblay in the “Notes” of Growing Things.
Thank goodness Paul Tremblay kindly bestowed some Author’s Notes upon his readers in the end pages for Growing Things. I was not ready to let go! I needed Paul’s conversational and personal commentary on each story—almost like I had been on a long journey, the boat had docked and Paul was there to carefully guide his readers as they stepped off the boat to stand on solid land again.
Part of the sentimentality was from Paul’s carefully crafted ordering of the stories. It’s this reader’s recommendation that this collection needs to be read in order. Don’t skip about. It’s not for any reasons other than emotionally; the stories follow a cycle and it’s best to have the same beginning and ending experience as everyone else. I hope that makes sense. I’m trying not to diminish any reader discoveries by oversharing.
I also recommend finishing a story and then flipping to the end, to the Notes, to read what Paul has to say about what you just read. To shed light on what you just encountered. After the first and title story, I was so excited and captivated by what I had just discovered I felt like I needed someone else in the world to freak out with! (Paul’s notes satisfied that urge to have a discussion.)
As the journey continued, I took note of all the experimental narratives, story formatting and literary devices. It’s almost like over the years, Paul Tremblay has had all these fantastic ideas rattling around in his writer brain and this is the collection where he got to try them all out! I really wish I could tell you some of the unique aspects of my favorite stories but to tell you that would be to spoil some of the fun surprises that you should be able to experience for yourself. I just want to tell you that “The Teacher” was intense. “A Haunted House is a Wheel Upon Which Some Are Broken” was strange, powerful and engaging. “It Won’t Go Away” was unsettling and disturbing. “Notes From the Dog Walkers” was a slow build to madness. Madness I tell you! Shock and awe!
“It’s Against the Laws to Feed the Ducks” was upsetting and even beautiful in its sadness. Lastly, I can’t even really talk about “The Thirteenth Temple.” I was super emotional about that story—lots of tears, a knot in my stomach and an odd feeling of closure. Again, thankful for the notes after that particular story.
I just want to urge anyone reading this review to preorder this book and then read it straight away. This is one of those books that people will talk about and you just don’t want to be late to the party. Mother Horror is trying her very best to encourage you NOT TO BE LATE TO THE PARTY! I savored my time in these pages—even though some of the stories had been released previously elsewhere, they were all new to me and I treasured every word.
A short story collection from a favorite author is just the best possible thing in the world; Growing Things is among the best of them.