After reading Traumatized I decided in this review to make an example out of Alexander S. Brown. Going down that road, I must begin with how this work came to my attention, and if memory serves me right I believe I was introduced to Brown's Myspace page, and one thing led to another resulting with a copy in the mail and an author at the other end anxious to know my thoughts.
I get a lot of that. And if I had a nickel for every last one..........
.......yet, at the end of the day, I've read through the works of many unsung authors and more often than not I've found most of them to be promising, despite shortcomings, despite lack of the proper infusion of poetry in their prose, oftentimes exhibiting great storytelling/character structure but lacking in the sort of finesse that turns pages and makes a mediocre book a great work to be proud of as an author....that sort of thing, especially with what goes regarding a majority of self-published material. Alex Brown is self-published, his first novel Sweet Dreams ( 2003 from Authorhouse, or 1st Books Library as was what it's been known as prior to being Authorhouse), has a couple of good reviews by laymen reviewers on Amazon and sports one of the worst covers I've ever seen on a book. In 2008, Brown utilized the services of Xlibris to publish his 15-tale, 300-plus-page collection Traumatized, the work which falls under scrutiny here. I checked out an "about the book" website regarding Traumatized designed by Xlibris that looks hella cool but doesn't say much of anything, and www.damnedsoulsclub.com, a more personal site ala Brown's Myspace presence but doesn't have much to it albeit a good bio about the author. Since his high school years in Mississippi, Alex Brown has more than tampered around with his passion for telling stories, the kind of dark stories I dig, and in print he's been around since 2003, so to date he's been dancing around with stories to tell and sell to the masses for a good handful of years but (for reasons that likely have to do with why his web presence lacks the meat and potatoes I was hoping to find) he remains a teeny little voice compared to where he should be by now.
Point is, Traumatized is a collection that deserves far more credit than what's encompassed within the above paragraph, and it blows me away how this assemblage of exhilarating and refreshingly macabre series of stories could not have been more prominently pimped than it has. It's an example......a perfect example......of a genuine piece of work that deserves the attention of writers and writer's associations whose authors do this sort of thing for a living but falls short of the recognition it deserves. Take Feast of the Pigs, for example.....highly entertaining cops/turned-bloodsucking-creatures faire, how a Big Easy spirit came to be in Althea's Last Dance is top-notch narrative, and we also have a delightful The End of Summer where a hand-me-down occult book library inspires grisly voo-doo doll-type mayhem done with balls-out satisfying style. There are a handful of instances where Brown seems a bit long-winded.....where, for example, the opening Bloodlines tale (essentially a good haunted house-type "Clue" where a group of people are summoned to a mansion to search for a mysterious treasure) can be detailed down a bit and given momentum. Traumatized is damn worth paying attention to, and I hands-down recommend it.
Now that I've said what I've said, I don't think I need to make an example of Alexander Brown. I think he's an example in his own right, of a literary talent that needs to broaden his horizons to the extent that it fits the exemplary nature of what he's done with this work, and not hide it under a bushel and remain that teeny little voice. Some of this caliber of writing....man, it's well above a lot of the books I get in the mail to review that makes me say yet again "....if I had a nickel for every last one......" and it's a shame it hasn't seen anywhere near its potential yet, for lack of whatever the reason, online or off.