Saturday, October 7, 2017

Acts of contrition

So, I recently found a book I last read back in high school that I remembered really liking. What I found out is that what I enjoyed as a child kind of terrifies me as an adult.

The book, Penance, by Rick R. Reed, concerns teenage hustlers living on the streets of Chicago, and how one, Jimmy, winds up setting off a pedophile serial killer. Jimmy is hustling, when he gets picked up by Dwight, who thinks that only through pain can street trash be redeemed. That the pain he's giving helps him get his jollies is another matter entirely. Jimmy manages to make a break from it when Dwight's wife comes home a few days early. This inspires the wife to take thier daughter and leave Dwight.

This of course sets Dwight over the edge, who in turn builds a torture dungeon in his basement. Said basement is soon filled with Jimmy's friends, while Dwight stalks Jimmy.

Jimmy, in the meantime is aided and also antagonistic with Father Richard, a priest who's also a pedophile. Difference being Richard is is SAA and doing his best to fight the urges, and unlike Dwight, isn't blaming the hustlers for his issues.

While the book still remains entertaining, things I found titillating at 15 when I last read this are now a heck of a lot more terrifying at 41.

Which is another discussion, since it makes me wonder which other books I read at that age range would inspire a different reaction in me now. Stephen King's IT comes directly to mind, since I was around the age of the boys at the beginning when I first read it, and spent much of my time thinking how cool it would be to be attacked by Universal Monsters.

Also, Penance was one of the Dell Abyss imprint book, of which not that many were published. However, as I was reading through the titles at the back of the paperback, I was amused at how many books released in the line still line my shelves from authors like Poppy Z. Bright and Kathe Koja. I think Nancy A. Collins may have had a title or two under the heading. As I recall, the line was based on Nietzsche's line about the Abyss staring back into you, and was supposed to feature stories less about supernatural monsters and more the horrors of humanity. Quite frankly their success with taht was hit or miss, but most of the books in the line I did wind up enjoying.