« Matheson Uncollected / Richard Matheson | Main | Dogs / Nancy Kress »

Jack Haringa Must Die! / Edited by Nicholas Kaufmann

Merricat Publications / May 2008
Reviewed by: Martel Sardina

Why would anyone want to kill Jack Haringa? Paul G. Tremblay admits in the anthology’s introduction that Haringa is not an evil man - despite his tendencies to brow beat authors for grammatical goofs in their writing. Instead, Tremblay tells readers that Haringa is in fact quite charming, a good person, and a good sport. What kind of man would subject himself to death twenty-eight times over? (Thirty-one, if you count the additional carnage brought on by Brian Keene and A.J. Matthews in other works of fiction - but who’s counting?)

The answer? A man with a heart of gold, one who realizes that in even in death there are still ways to support a good cause. Proceeds from the anthology’s sale will help support the newly-established Shirley Jackson Awards, whose aim is to recognize outstanding achievement in literature of psychological suspense, horror and the dark fantastic. With any luck, perhaps one of these tales of Haringa’s demise will be a contender for next year’s prize.

The first to "kill" Haringa is Jack Ketchum. In “Death to Haringa!”, Ketchum violates Camp Necon’s (the affectionate nickname for the venerable Northeastern Writer’s Conference) mantra of “What happens at Necon stays at Necon,” by revealing the secret ingredient in the beloved saugie, a tasty, hot dog-like treat infamous to the annual gathering.

For those who have heard Haringa lovingly referred to as “Monsieur Crankypants,” Stephen Mark Rainey’s tale “Woolly Solution” provides a possible explanation as to how Haringa’s pants became so cranky in the first place.

Haringa vocally expresses his displeasure with much of today’s dark fiction, sometimes blasting novelists for copping out and appealing to the masses rather than seeking to preserve a higher standard of quality. Gregory Lamberson pokes fun at Haringa by asking, “But what’s wrong with me paying for my family’s health insurance?” in his story, which definitely reads like a “padded out screenplay.”

Lee Thomas wins this reviewer’s prize for favorite story with “Jackie the Slayer.” Haringa is offed by friend and fellow writer Nicholas Kaufmann after an argument over Kaufmann’s inability to understand how to properly use a semi-colon.

Whether you know Jack Haringa or not before reading these grisly tales of woe, by the collection’s end you will have either grown to love him or you will want to write your own version of his untimely demise on March 7, 2009 - the first anniversary of “Kill Jack Haringa on Your Blog Day.”

Editor Nicholas Kaufmann was nice enough to allow Haringa to pen an after(life)word in which he sets the record straight about all of the “lies” told by friends in the preceding pages. Haringa proves to be all the things claimed by Tremblay’s introduction, the most important being a good sport for the benefit of not only readers, but also for the Shirley Jackson Awards, where through strict adherence to the bar Haringa and other members of the SJA Advisory Committee have set, a bit of his legacy will no doubt live on.

Purchase Jack Haringa Must Die!, edited by Nicholas Kaufmann.

Posted on Thursday, August 7, 2008 at 11:08AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend