Here’s a great review of Jim’s work at the blog Tor. com, entitled “Genre in the Mainstream: Jim Shepard’s Human Monsters”
When I recently asked Shepard a modified version of the clichéd, “where do you get your ideas?” question, he responded, “I would be nowhere without my obsessions. Obsessions are good.” And one of Shepard’s obsessions seems to be monsters.
In the first Jim Shepard story I ever read (mentioned in a previous article here) the machinations and desires of famed amphibious monster, the Creature from the Black Lagoon are explored in a heartbreakingly matter-of-fact tale. Acting as a sort of prequel and companion piece to the famous film of the same name “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” begins 250 million years before the boat of humans shows up and starts cramping the Creature’s style. But when the people do get there, the reader is treated to all of the Creature’s inner thoughts, ranging from his enjoyment and regrets about his actions, to specific and excruciating gruesome detail of his kills. Among other things, the Creature comments on the dopey habit the humans have of always leaving around a handy rope, seemingly for his benefit.
“Creature from the Black Lagoon” succeeds because despite the humor it doesn’t present the gimmick of doing a literary short story about the Creature in a gimmicky way. Instead the story takes you inside the psyche of a monster to a point that might be a little too close for comfort. Shepard employs this technique not just in his stories that deal with literal monsters, but in his “straight” literary stories, too. His most recent collection You Think That’s Bad (released March 2011) follows in the trend of his previous books by featuring a host of stories that star actual historical figures as the protagonists….
All of Jim Shepard’s novels and short story collections have something in them for a reader of the fantastical genres. “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” is in the book Love and Hydrogen that pound for pound has more SFF-style stories in it than the newest book. However, the new book You Think That’s Bad, contains the wonderful story I just described and a bunch of other ones that will appeal to the same kind of sensibility. If you’re a human who enjoys exploring your inner monster, or a monster who is searching for your inner human, the writing of Jim Shepard is here to help.