The End is the BeginningBooks
Publication date: August 2008
Press: Final State Press
I had seen the movies. I had read the books. I had dreamed of this moment, often.
The Plague of Fur began, as such things do, with a faint smudge of peach fuzz. The fur, once invented, contained the capacity to grow and spread. Like all life, it wanted to make more of itself. Reality is played out anyway.
The End is the Beginning is a collection of fifteen short stories. These stories have appeared in magazines such as The Wandering Hermit Review, Semantikon, Seattle Magazine, Slouch Magazine, Mississippi Mud, The Mississippi Review, The Jack Straw Anthology, The Clackamas Literary Review, First Intensity, The Raven Chronicles, Smokelong Quarterly, and The Steel City Review. They were also written and first read for a number of reading series including It’s About Time, The Titlewave New Reading Series, A Leg to Stand On, the Brontësarous, — an eighteen-hour marathon reading about the Brontës — The Red Sky Poetry Theater, and What the Heck Fest.
“The End is the Beginning”, Eckhard Gerdes, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Volume XXIX, #1, Spring 2009
American Book Award-winning novelist Matthew Briggs is back, and this time with a collection of short stories “about the end of the world, death, destruction, and other light subjects.” And because Nero fiddled while Rome burned, the reader should imagine songs to accompany the stories. “The Plague of Fur,” for example, in which all solid material in the Pacific Northwest becomes coated by a self-replicating nano-constructed mechanical “fur,” might best be read while listening to the Cramps’ “The Green Fuzz.” “Edgar,” an anatomy of a murder, goes well with the Beatles’ “I’ll Get You [in the End],” which has the added advantage of having an anal sex double-entendre, which is perfect for Edgar, who did “nasty things to conceal who he really was.” “A Boy, a Cat, a Lifeboat,” in which a boy and his companion—a tiger who is developing a craving for human flesh while both are trapped on a lifeboat awaiting rescue—works nicely with Alexis Korner’s “I Wanna Put a Tiger in Your Tank.” “The Cemetery Dogs,” about some spoiled terriers who pester a man in a park until he takes matters into his own hands, calls for David Bowie’s annoying “Diamond Dogs,” spoiled in their sable wraps. The best story in the collection, the long “Caffeinism,” about depravity in the depths of caffeine addiction, of course, must be accompanied by Rick Danko’s fabulous “Java Blues,” as performed by Levon Helm. As with the songs, the stories are all about life out of kilter, told with charm from the perspective of the odd as norm, not so much magical realism as delightfully pernicious absurdity. The only story which music doesn’t really fit is the collection’s final statement, “The Death of Charlotte Brontë,” although an argument for “Go Tell Aunt Rhodie” is possible. [Eckhard Gerdes]
Review and Links
“Briggs’s style is expressionist, and has the eerie, detached quality of Barry Yourgrau, Lydia Davis and Russell Edson. … Briggs uses fantastical scenarios to shock readers into awareness about the directions in which humanity seems to be headed—the jump from the world of despair in the stories, to our own existence, in Briggs’s hands, doesn’t seem that far.” — The Raven Chronicles
“The experiments in his stories are subtle little knives that do their damage very sweetly, and I highly value the direction he is heading by opening up this new collection to the brave new world of electronic publishing.”
— Trevor Dodge, author of Yellow #10 and Everyone I Know Lives On Roads.