Blood Will Have Its Season
By Joseph S. Pulver Sr.
Jagged. Lurid. Hard-boiled.
All of these terms describe the writing of Joseph S. Pulver Sr. His recent collection, Blood Will Have Its Season, is testament to the power of the written word, even if those words are sometimes scathing, dark, harrowing. The collection comprises 41 tales, presenting a wide gamut of approaches and forms, from poetry and short fiction to more eclectic mashups of the two. While the cast of characters leans toward the less fortunate (whether by choice or accident of Fate) in our society – junkies, whores, the desperate – Pulver’s strength is in showing the beauty in the chaos, even as the chaos consumes the universe. An example:
“Moonlight. Crashing in the room. Filling it like a drunk who doesn’t give a shit who’s watching or what they think.
Moonlight. Staining everything. Blood stained everything. Every thing. Blood – loud and fresh – everywhere.
A head with no face – the skinned face thrown in a corner-tomb with no memory of yesterday. Dropped with the other garbage. Cash lying around, two thousand in small bills maybe. Cold blue steel. And dope. A skinny underage girl with a dirty spikeneedle still in her arm – slain. Naked.” (from “No Exit Sign”)
Mr. Pulver has a good eye for detail, and is a sensitive student of his fellow humans. It is there on every page of Blood Will Have Its Season, and while his unsparing insights and observations veer into an almost unconscious critique, his brooding approach and (sometimes) brutal directness nonetheless exhibit an empathy with those who are less than privileged; who perhaps went to all the wrong schools; whose road less travelled is indeed rather dark (to paraphrase Robert Frost). In short, those like us — we who are not like others.
Strangely, with his obvious enthusiasm for the works of Lovecraft and Chambers, Pulver (on the surface) seems to have little in common with these two masters of the 20th Century when it comes to writing style. Likewise, with regard to present-day writers of the weird and macabre, he is neither lyrical like a W.H. Pugmire, nor esoteric and cloistered like a Thomas Ligotti. No, Pulver’s output is more lean and spare – think Cormac McCarthy meets Ernest Hemingway, but more musical. His sentences are choppy, expressionistic — like existential bullets exploding color onto a white psychic canvas. Some may not care for his approach; I for one found it intriguing and compelling. It propelled his stories into interesting, rarely explored terrain – visceral and unsettling though it may be — that commands attention, even as we want to look away.
Almost like some literary traffic accident that forces the eyes to the very thing we dread the most…
In his Foreword, S.T. Joshi rightly states that “Joe Pulver [has] found his voice.” I could not agree more; in the end, it is abundantly clear that Pulver has a singular style and approach, and is certainly an author who I cannot only recommend, but highly endorse.
– Reviewed by Jason V Brock