Review: The Man on the Ceiling by Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem

Review: The Man on the Ceiling by Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem

Posted on Jan 7th, 2009 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade

I don’t enjoy most popular horror and I don’t normally buy horror to read, but this book attracted me.  It has nice cover art (you can judge a book by its cover), and I had noticed it at the bookstore for some time before finally deciding to get it.  I might write more about this later, but for now my review from Amazon…

It seems some people just didn’t get this book.  I suppose I understand their confusion.  Its a very experimental book in how it combines autobiography and story all the while doing this as a collaboration.  Its impressive considering how difficult a challenge this must have been.
I liked it.  There were some deep insights in this book and they avoided giving easy answers or simple stories.  Its not exactly a novel, but I wouldn’t go so far to say the label doesn’t apply.  There are many stories within the book.  More importantly, its about the process of making stories out of life experience and making sense of life experience through story.
There is a cleverness to this book, but it didn’t seem pretentious to me.  What the authors set out to do necessitated cleverness.  I enjoyed how smoothly they mixed nonfiction and fiction.
I was satisfied enough with this book that I give it an overall good review.  It was worth the money spent.  It wasn’t perfect, but its hard to imagine any two authors collaborating to create something better.  I’ve never read anything that compares to this book and so reviewing it is difficult.  Fortunately, I had no expectations going in and so I was able to judge it on its own merits.  However, if someone buys it hoping for a normal novel, then they’d be dissapointed.
There is something specific that I appreciated the most.  Horror is too often limited to the perspective of the individual.  This book is about how closely related are love and fear.
Its a hard book to get a grasp of, but I think it will grow on me more and more.  I immediately read back through the book after finishing it.  I’m sure its a book I will return to many times.

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Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 5 hours later

Nicole said

i will probably never read it, but it’s interesting how strongly this book has attracted you.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 10 hours later

Marmalade said

Its a very unusual book that attempts to convey a very difficult subject matter. The authors are a married couple. The book is a collaborative work about the very collaboration that is their shared life together. They are very different people and yet seem to balance eachother.

All of their children are adopted, and for whatever reason they seem attracted to somewhat troubled children. One of their sons hung himself when he was 9 years old, an age when a kid can’t even comprehend death.

They clearly demonstrate their love for eachother and for their children. I’ve never been married nor have had children, but I was completely able to understand and empathize.

The book isn’t about horror vs love, but about how horror and love flow into one another, how love demands risking ourselves to the horrors that can befall those we love. This book has the emotional impact that it does because the stories they share are so personal. They give you about as much of a glimpse into their lives as is possible for an author to give.

The book also goes beyond just this. Its about what makes life worth living, what keeps a person doing what they do, what they must do. And its about feeling wonder. Life is hard to make sense of and even story can only go so far. This book is about the limits of life and about looking beyond these limits to see what is there… even when we are afraid or maybe because we are afraid.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

it sounds very powerful.