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Flesh Wounds
Brian A. Hopkins
Lone Wolf Publications, CD-ROM/532 pages

Flesh Wounds
Brian A. Hopkins
Born in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania in 1960, Brian A. Hopkins graduated from Harrison Central High School in Gulfport, MS, in 1979 and moved on to the College of Engineering at Memphis State University. He went to work as a civilian for the US Air Force and now works at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.

Brian A. Hopkins Website
ISFDB Bibliography
Lone Wolf Publications

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

If you've already read some of Hopkins' work, you know the title bodes ill for everyone in these stories. If you aren't familiar with his fiction -- first of all, shame on you -- then a peek at the CD-ROM label should dispel any of those happy thoughts. Flesh Wounds, like Hopkins, goes for the deep cut, the indescribable pain. Oddly, the wounds in this collection are often to the heart, and always fatal.

The range of Hopkins' imagination stretches to encompass every dark corner of horror. The darkest corners of the mind, of the unknown, and of the heart, come to light under his sure touch.

If you tend toward the ghoulish, you'll be getting a kick in the pants with the first story out of the gate. "Dead Art" explores the link between artistry and obsession. Is it anything goes for the creative? Or is there an indelible line between the love of form and the emotion that overwhelms love? Hate, too, can be an artist's muse. Take the sickly funny "What'll the Neighbours Think?" The concept may have been visited before, but no one has done it better than Hopkins. For some reason, Arsenic and Old Lace comes to mind...

Flat-out sick comes at you in stories like "The Woodshed" and "Scarecrow's Dream." But, nothing in Hopkins' writing is ever so clear-edged. Even with the horror headed for you at about light speed, the undercurrent of questions and speculation strikes still deeper.

The gruesome violence in "The Baited Night" makes you wonder just how much we actually know about our world, and what amazing and/or terrifying things are waiting just beyond our sight. If I add that it has the feel of Cthulhu Mythos, how many readers will trip over themselves trying to get a copy of Flesh Wounds a.s.a.p.?

Sure, Hopkins gives your stomach and your goose-flesh a workout, but he is not content to leave the effect there. Loneliness, loss, and grief are handled as lovingly as any aspect of his fiction. "Out the Back Door" peels back the layers of perception, laying bare the suffering of old age and the painful sirens' song of distant memories. Hopkins sees through the screens of what we would like to think the end of life brings and releases the truth.

For me, though, the most wrenching piece in the collection may seem an odd choice. But the sadness and emptiness of one life remains with me, sneaking into my consciousness any time it needs. "Flotsam" is a tender, heartbreaking story of a life unvalued by its owner or anyone who might have helped break through the incredible loneliness. In very few words, Hopkins conveys the tragedy, the longing. With two, short closing sentences, he pours the pain into the reader. In four pages, he strikes at the heart of indifference. And we feel the pointless loss.

Gore, torment, terror, and the fears that jab at us all -- Hopkins can give you that and more. Take this golden opportunity to discover some of the sides of this talented and complex author. Horror doesn't begin to cover the scope of Hopkins' world.

Copyright © 2000 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. DARKERS, her latest novel, will be published in early 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She has also written for BOOKPAGE and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. Her articles and short stories are all over the map. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.

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