Title: In the Mean Time
Author: Paul Tremblay
Published: October 19, 2010
Genre: Short Stories, Horror
Kid Friendly Rating: 16+ Language, Horror, Scary Themes. This book is not meant for young children.
How can I even begin to describe this collection! Absolutely amazing is the best way. There are 15 short stories in this collection and they range from a two headed girl whose second head is always changing into historical and fictional characters, to a quiet apocalyptic tale of a family camping in the woods while the whole world starts to disappear. There is also the haunting story “Rhymes with Jew” which left me in tears. These stories delve into the lives of people going though a traumatic event, whether they realise it or not and each of these characters are living their lives in a world that is collapsing all around them, either figuratively or literally. Here is the list of all the stories in this collection:
- “The Teacher”
- “The Two-Headed Girl”
- “The Strange Case of Nicholas Thomas: An Excerpt from a History of the Longesian Library”
- “Feeding the Machine”
- “Figure 5”
- “Growing Things”
- “Harold the Spider Man”
- “Rhymes with Jew”
- “The Marlborough Man Meets the End”
- “The Blog at the End of the World”
- “The People Who Live Near Me”
- “There’s No Light Between Floors”
- “Headstones in Your Pocket”
- “It’s Against the Law to Feed the Ducks”
- “We Will Never Live in the Castle”
Final Thoughts: I was actually given the suggestion to read this by Paul Tremblay himself on Twitter. After reviewing A Head Full of Ghosts, he responded to me and told me that the original version of “The Growing Things” was located in this collection, which of course meant that I had to read it right away. I am so glad that I listened to him because this is one of the best short story collections I have ever read. They were gripping and traumatic and at times left you guessing as to what you read and the true meaning behind the words.
As I read the stories, I felt that I was part of these worlds, which when looking at the context of most of these, seems terrifying! I could see myself as the mother in “It’s Against the Law to Feed the Ducks,” protecting my children until the end especially when there is no way out. I could feel myself under the rubble and in the presents of the Old Gods in “There’s No Light Between Floors.” And as I said already “Rhymes with Jew” left me in tears as I cried for a child that is not mine. The most gripping part of these stories is that many of them are told in the voice of a child. Since I have became a mother, I have found that this is something that can really affect me in a different way. I am drawn to what is happening with children and always think, “What if that was my child?”
I read a review of ITMT by Richard Thomas over at The Nervous Breakdown and it really touched on everything I was thinking. He titles his Amazon review with “Sometimes the apocalypse ends with a whimper, not a bang” which I can only assume is taken from The Hollow Men by T.S. Eloit where in the final stanza he says “This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper.” I find that this is a great way to describe these tales. Not all of them are epic, heck not all of them you would even feel are completely apocalyptic. But maybe these tales are personal apocalypses where everything is ending in a persons mind whether they are going crazy or there is a breakdown in perception and reality.
While researching this book, I found a great site which had Paul Tremblay create a music playlist that related to each of the stories he wrote. Check it out here! PS – picking “Mad World” by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules for “The Teacher” is perfect. It made me think of the movie Donnie Darko which was haunting and would fiy perfectly in this collection.
I give this book a 10 out of 10 (Audible version 8/10 since I was not a huge fan of the reader) and will probably reread it over and over just so I can try and full grasp the entire picture. I even want to purchase the paperback edition so that I can have it in my hands and I think that reading it and not just listening will give me an all new perspective.
Have you read this book? Give us your thoughts!
Previously published 9/9/15