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Sheep and Wolves by Jeremy C. Shipp

Sheep and Wolves

by Jeremy C. Shipp

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I read a preview of one of the the stories in this collection; it was striking and sharply written. Pick it up if you like the weird and surprising.
  David_David_Katzman | Nov 26, 2013 |
This collection of nightmarish short stories is a fascinating read. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys horror that makes you think.

( )
  GaylaDrummond | Mar 28, 2013 |
I'm always on the lookout for new horror, a terrifying tale that grabs me not because it follows suit with other horror stories, but something that takes the genre and turns it on its ear and forces me to think in a new way. Jeremy C. Shipp's collection "Sheep and Wolves" does just that. With stories showing the dark side of non-conformity or of being an outsider -- "Camp" follows the young narrator as he dares to confront what he believes to be wrong, with terrible consequences -- or those who do what they're told only to uncover the truth -- "American Sheep"'s narrator finds himself in a series of rooms, with a loud voice booming instructions that become gradually worse and debasing -- Shipp's stories are the closest I've come to what a dream or nightmare actually is: the quick and subtle changes in place and time that should be awkward but aren't, the bizarre array of characters and creatures that feel normal though they shouldn't. They are delightfully twisted tales of horror, each one darkly humorous, each one somehow just the right length to leave you both satisfied and craving to read more. ( )
  ocgreg34 | Jul 2, 2010 |
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

New readers, don't mistakenly think that the only books I do micro-reviews for are ones I didn't particularly care for, or that weren't particularly good; just take this title for a good example, alt-horror hero (and 2007 Stoker Award nominee) Jeremy Shipp's newest, the magnificent and extremely unsettling story collection Sheep and Wolves. Regular readers will of course remember Shipp; about a year ago I favorably reviewed his last novel, the witty political black comedy Vacation; but make no mistake, this latest manuscript is quite different in tone, a much bleaker and more terrifying book, one that is much more clear on where the "horror" is in alt-horror. Not quite related stories but not quite standalone either, they all seem to take place in a bizarre alternate reality that is somewhat like our own, except where supernatural elements clearly actually exist; and it's also a more savage place among the humans than our own world as well, a post-democracy society (or maybe one where democracy never existed), full of predatory "wolf" humans full of barely concealed violent rage at the world, who are taught to successfully live together by channelling that energy into acts of unspeakable violence against the much larger number of human "sheep" that exist (hence the title of this story collection). Or in simpler terms, imagine the society-approved brutality of fascism combined with the outright insanity of serial killers, in a world where malicious ethereal spirits really do exist, the kind of stuff that keeps nerdy intellectuals up at night.

It's the scariest freaking book I've read in a decade, make no mistake; but since it's a story collection instead of a novel, I as usual would have a hard time writing out a long-form analytical review of it, which is why I'm instead writing up a smaller essay and simply recommending it highly. When people say "New Horror," this is the kind of book they're talking about, stuff for you existing horror fans who have grown tired of the usual overwritten delicacies of late-period Stephen King and the like. It comes with a big thumbs-up, and will undoubtedly become known eventually as a dark classic from this prolific underground author.

Out of 10: 9.6 ( )
1 vote jasonpettus | Nov 7, 2009 |
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Book description
Jeremy Shipp is the master of the mind-bending tale. These stories bewitch and transport the reader. Though you may not know where Shipp will travel next, each story is an unforgettable thrill-ride and you’ll be glad you took the trip.

Shipp's novel Vacation established him as one of the foremost authors in the “bizarro fiction” movement. Now he turns his attention to short fiction and literary horror. The themes of alienation and cultural homogenization on a global scale are explored in closer detail. Shipp notes, “This intimacy makes Sheep and Wolves much darker than its predecessor. Because now, the darkness is invading your homes, your dreams, your lives.” The author’s trademark quirky characters populate an otherwise bleak landscape, this time around facing horrors at home rather than evils abroad.

"Jeremy Shipp is a very good drug."

--John Skipp

"Shipp's clear, insistent voice pulls you down into the rabbit hole and doesn't let go."

--Jack Ketchum

"[Sheep and Wolves is:] the scariest freaking book I've read in a decade, make no mistake....When people say 'New Horror,' this is the kind of book they're talking about, stuff for you existing horror fans who have grown tired of the usual overwritten delicacies of late-period Stephen King and the like. It comes with a big thumbs-up, and will undoubtedly become known eventually as a dark classic from this prolific underground author."

—Chicago Center for Literature & Photography

"This book is a nice quick read, some of the stories being less than 3 pages in length. Little bites, if you will, of horrific visions and gnashing teeth, this book has something for everyone who is a fan of raw horror."


"If you want to know what's happening on the edge of speculative fiction, Sheep and Wolves will serve as an excellent introduction — its stories are challenging, unsettling, and deeply meaningful."

—The Harrow

"I once called Shipp one of the more 'bizarre of the bizarro writers,' and with SHEEP AND WOLVES, he really lives up to that title."

—Horror Fiction Review

"Any reader of the bizarro culture will find this collection a necessity, any reader of fiction will find Sheep and Wolves rewarding."

—Midwest Book Review

"A stark fever-dream of a book. Shipp's flashbang stories will turn your mind inside-out."

—Ronald Damien Malfi, author of Passenger

"Sheep and Wolves is a poster-child for the Bizarro genre: dream-like stories drenched in psychedelic imagery, and enough thematic layers and multiple meanings to keep scholars pontificating for years to come."

—Matthew Warner, author of Horror Isn't a 4-Letter Word and Eyes Everywhere

"Jeremy Shipp is an incredibly talented bizarro fiction author. His impressive stories are as intelligent, entertaining, and moving as they are strange. Read him now."

—Carlton Mellick III, author of The Egg Man

"Stripped down to the bare bones of narrative consciousness, these stories manipulate the reader like a drunken Trix Rabbit buggering the corpse of Kurt Vonnegut."

—Cameron Pierce, author of Shark Hunting in Paradise

"Shipp writes very weird (bizarre even for bizarro) comedic horror stories about the things in life that really scare us… not ghosts and zombies (although I think there are a few ghosts and zombies in there)but car accidents, mental illness, and real-life monsters who are caught up in endless cycles of abuse. How he also manages to make these stories humorous…I don't know.As long as you don't mind a bit of subtext and emotional honesty Sheep and Wolves is highly recommended."

—Ash Lomen, bizarro maniac

"Shipp writes well-constructed puzzles where each word, each sentence, contributes to the final picture with economic precision and sharp bursts of humor. This is a memorable collection, wandering deftly through the gnomic shadowlands of dark fantasy, horror and bizarro."

—Andersen Prunty, author of JACK AND MR. GRIN

"Jeremy C. Shipp writes about horrible things in marvelous ways. SHEEP AND WOLVES is a compulsively readable collection (I read the sucker in three sittings) filled with resplendent moments of satire, gruesome contrivances, and some of the sharpest, funniest dialogue around. These stories had me cringing and laughing out loud simultaneously. Of course trying to box SHEEP AND WOLVES in as merely a gore and giggles affair would be doing the collection a serious disservice. Each of the stories contained within offer up odd instances of insight that elevate the work and paint a compelling view of our sometimes beautiful, sometimes insidious humanity. A weird, funny, brutal, transcendent read. Highly recommended."

—Michael Louis Calvillo, Bram Stoker Finalist author of I WILL RISE
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