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MR. OVERBY IS FALLING: THE DIRECTORíS CUT
By
NATHAN TYREE (Gozu Press; 2000-09)

This novella, the first by Nathan Tyree, has been a cult mainstay since its initial publication in 2004. After reading this newly revised ďDirectorís CutĒ version, which contains a retrospective introduction by the author and several newly written footnotes, I fully understand the bookís popularity. Itís a stunner pure and simple, a hair-raisingly gruesome yet disarmingly wise and philosophical account.

     It begins like FIGHT CLUB, with the severely disgruntled Overby stuck in a dead-end job and finding himself perpetually at odds with the world. His existence seems to become if not enlightened then at least enlivened when he meets Walter, an alcoholic tough guy who shares Overbyís misanthropy. But Walter harbors profoundly unsavory secrets that become clear midway through, at which point the narrative takes a most alarming turn into HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER territory. Itís here that Overby has his titular fall, unleashing his anger and torment upon an unsuspecting world.

     Yet thereís a further twist in store--a big twist that puts everything into an entirely different, even more disturbing context. Itíd be unfair to give the surprise away (Iíve probably revealed too much as it is), as MR. OVERBYíS unpredictability is a large part of its brilliance--that and the riotously compelling prose. This is one of those books youíll have a mighty difficult time putting down once youíve started reading, regardless of how ugly it gets. Yes, itís a rough read, but also a skilled and ultimately edifying one that despite the twisty narrative never loses its footing.

     There is, however, one fairly grievous flaw, and itís likely due to the fact that this is a revised edition. Iím referring to an early chapter in which Overby stalks a woman with the intent of killing her that inexplicably occurs before the revelation of Walterís true nature, and so lessens the shock of the revelation immeasurably--and also blunts the protagonistís own descent into murderous insanity, which obviously has less of an impact if heís already there. Iím guessing the offending chapter was cut from the bookís initial version, and frankly itís better off left out.  

     

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