Monday, October 22, 2012

Reader's Diary #883- Graham Masterton: Eric the Pie

A couple of years ago, my son was particularly upset after an initiation hockey game. In tears upset. We could tell that he was beating himself over his perceived lack of hockey skills and tried our best to console him. Then we discovered why he was taking it so hard. It turns out that every time we told him to have fun and do his best, what he thought we meant was to be the best. We felt awful that we unintentionally put that kind of pressure on him. We're really not that sort of parents at all. But now that some time has passed, we find it amusing that he and other kids have such ideas.

I was reminded of this when I began Graham Masterton's "Eric the Pie." It begins by describing how a boy named Eric began to fret over his diet after hearing the expression, "you are what you eat." After getting a scab on his knee, Eric is convinced it's the beginning of a pie crust.

At Graham Masterton's website, the link to this story adds the blurb, "the story that was responsible for the demise of horror magazine, Frighteners." Mistakenly— very mistakenly— I had theorized that the reason the story brought down a magazine was because it "jumped the shark" so to speak. I thought that a boy turning into a pie would be too cutesy for horror fans and that they cancelled their subscriptions accordingly. Oh how I wish that was the story.

"Eric the Pie" isn't about that at all. I remember reading about people with dissociative disorders having trouble with taking idioms literally. Of course, many young children have trouble with such phrases, but most grow out of them. Eric does not. He's psychopathic. And by the time you figure that out, you might just want to stop reading. "Eric the Pie" is one of the most disturbing, horrific stories I've ever read. It's well written, mind you, but really over the top in its gore and perverse content. Think Jeffrey Dahmer type stuff. I normally don't offend or shock easily, but perhaps it was the cute hockey memory and my expectations that got my defenses down. It'll be a hard story to block out and I can't in good conscience recommend it.

Apparently Frighteners ended after just four issues. The very first issue featured Masterton's story and the accompanying art work by Oliver Frey that graced the cover so offended consumers that it had to be pulled from the shelf. Maybe had I known this ahead of time, I could have avoided the story. Or at least I would have had a better idea of what to expect.

Incidentally, I've seen the cover image and it's nothing compared to the story itself.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Of course now you know that I am very curious to read this. But for now I am going to heed your warning until I decide whether I really want to subject myself to something I cannot unread.

John Mutford said...

Barbara: At least now you'll have more an idea of what to expect.