You know that moment when you discover that one of your favorite recording artists is also phenomenal live in concert? (I hope you do). It’s the same feeling when you find out that an author can write both novels and short fiction with an equal measure of talent. This is the feeling I encountered when I followed up my read of Matt Hayward’s first novel with his short fiction collection, Brain Dead Blues.
I enjoyed all of the stories, and the collection as a whole was a five-star read. Each story is unique, and I loved that as I progressed through the collection, I went through a range of emotions as a reader. With short fiction collections or anthologies, I like to narrow it down to my “Top 5” favorite stories. I’ll do that here, with a snippet of my thoughts on each.
-GOD IS IN THE RADIO: This one being about a rock musician automatically pulled me in from the beginning. I loved the horror woven in with some fantastic descriptions of rock n’ roll—in my notes I had written, “page 18-19-this description makes me think of certain albums I love and how I feel after attending an amazing concert”. I also noted a line from a song woven into some of the dialogue later in the story, which I thought was fun and might not be noticed by all readers.
-CRITTER: This was a fun read. Gory and also had me laughing out loud a few times. I thought that Angela was a great character, and got a little thrill out of her adventures once she discovered the critter…
-MEETING GREGORY: My favorite story of the collection. So, you can probably guess that it did make me cry. However, it would still be my favorite regardless of that fact. I did also find myself laughing and smiling at certain parts, but it was mostly a heartfelt story about true horrors brought on by real people. This one has been on my mind since I closed the book, and I would re-visit it again. It wrecked me in a good way.
-THAT’S THE PRICE YOU PAY: This one is a unique spin on a vampire tale. I love vampires, and enjoyed that it is different than any other stories I’ve read on the topic. I also feel like I could re-read this one several times and take more from it with each read.
-KING OF THE GYPSIES: This story is a different spin on a werewolf story, and I really enjoyed it. I once thought I wasn’t that into werewolf tales, but I think I just wasn’t reading the right ones, because this is one of those that has changed my tune.
I highly recommend this collection if you’re already a fan of Matt Hayward’s writing, and if you haven’t read any of his work yet, then it would also be a great starting point. You really can’t go wrong with any of these stories.