“How can you digest your own organs?” Our narrator asks at one point in Florence Sunnen’s debut pamphlet/book, The Hook, published by Nightjar Press. It is the sort of disquieting question that captures the quintessential essence of this book in nuce; troubling, in the way it balances horror with a sense of surreal calmness – of, perhaps, misplaced serenity.
The premise of the book is this; one summer, two siblings return to their family home. There is a rivalry between brother and sister forced upon them through their parents. So far; so familial. Yet in an inciting incident, the brother discovers the ability to start eating himself; literally – much to his parent’s bizarre satisfaction.
What follows is a masterful exploration of psychological and physiological horror; of sibling and parental tensions all mixed up with both surreal and disturbing imagery that perfectly fits the anxieties of today: particularly those around body consciousness and mental health.
Sunnen’s book is one that deserves plenty of credit and recognition; not least for the masterful use of language that threads throughout the entire work – the Synaesthesia, the structural mirroring of the themes and imagery present in the book, the real, “lived” dialogue, and, perhaps most importantly, the incredibly wicked black humour (we dare you not to laugh when the brother – by this point little more than a torso, he’s eaten himself so much – proclaims proudly that he “no longer needs food” since he now “feeds on internal nourishment.”)
In short; check this one out and pick yourselves up a copy from Nightjar Press (when they’re next in stock – they’ve currently sold-out). Like all great surrealist works, it’s one that you’ll want to keep coming back to, as you discover more within its pages on each reading.