Universal Harvester by John Darnielle Details
From the cult author of Wolf in White Van comes a horror- infused thriller set in a tiny Midwestern town; Clerks meets Cormac McCarthy. Jeremy works at the counter of…Check it in Amazon
From the cult author of Wolf in White Van comes a horror- infused thriller set in a tiny Midwestern town; Clerks meets Cormac McCarthy. Jeremy works at the counter of Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa.
It's the 1990s, pre-DVD, and the work is predictable and familiar; he likes his boss, and it gets him out of the house. But when a local schoolteacher comes in to return her copy of Targets, she has an odd complaint: 'There's something on it,' she says.
Two days later, another customer brings back She's All That and complains that something is wrong: 'There's another movie on this tape'. Curious, Jeremy takes a look.
And what he sees on the videos is so strange and disturbing that it propels him out of his comfortable routine and into a search for the tapes' creator. As the once-peaceful fields and barns of the Iowa landscape begin to seem sinister and threatening, Jeremy must come to terms with a truth that is as devastatingly sad as it is shocking.
An Amazon Best Book of February 2017: In Nevada, Iowa, in the late 90s, someone is splicing creepy home footage into the videocassettes rented from the Video Hut. You might be enjoying a Boris Karloff classic with some popcorn when the narrative is disconcertingly interrupted by a few moments of someone breathing heavily in the dark, or maybe something more sinister waits for viewers of She’s All That. And despite obvious reservations, Jeremy, treading water as a clerk following his mother’s sudden death years earlier, can’t stop watching. A few of the clips seem to betray local landmarks, and what self-respecting meddling kid could resist checking it out? This may sound like the set-up for a good thriller, but Universal Harvester is much stranger than that. Darnielle – whose unorthodox debut novel, Wolf in White Van, was nominated for the National Book Award – has written an understated slow burn of a book, lean on plot but dense in mood and dread. Darnielle is more interested in what ferments in the dark corners of our universal experiences – how we cope with loss and absence and the ways that they bend us, the peculiar ways we become bent. In fact, if ambiguity isn’t your thing, you might look elsewhere. People might be filming unnerving things in dilapidated, farm country outbuildings, but the pat, Psycho-style explanation is not forthcoming. Universal Harvester is like a David Lynch adaptation of a Marilynne Robinson novel, where manicured grass is replaced by fields of corn, but the bugs squirming beneath are the same. –Jon Foro, The Amazon Book Review
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