We went to a lovely play and a little over a week later have ended up with a very unlovely cold. I have a headache and a sore throat, some sneezing, and a fever. It’s hard to read and it’s hard to concentrate and that really takes a severe toll on my mood. It’s hard not to feel utterly useless when I’m sick. Also? I already have problems with the heat wave, and now I have a fever to make that feel worse too.
But no matter how sick I feel, I always worry about my lovely spouse more. She has very delicate sinuses and whenever she has a cold, they make her utterly miserable. Far beyond congestion, her head is completely clogged with all the extra phlegm. Her sneezes are worse. Her coughs are worse. I feel awful for her and I wish there was something I could do to just take her suffering away and suffer it for her. But there’s nothing I can do, but bundle her up on the sofa and encourage her to drink all of the water she possibly can.
Not Old, but Classic
It’s that magical time of year again — Halloween in August! It’s the month of spooky reads that happens a couple of months before the spooky season, and this year I feel extra prepared to dive into books about ghosts and goblins and all the wonderfully macabre themes that I know and love.
The first selection of the month is a bit off the beaten track for me, in the sense that it’s a manga series that is about ten years old. However, it is still heralded as a horror classic. Nakayama Masaaki’s PTSD Radio is a horror series that has some very creepy writing combined with some fantastically creepy artwork. Nakayama is a master of atmosphere and, in a three-volume omnibus edition, PTSD Radio is the perfect read for a dark and stormy night.
Horror In Bite-Sized Form
Each volume contains eighteen chapters that are basically self-contained horror stories. Mostly wordless, these narratives focus on atmosphere and imagery and seek to terrify the reader in a very short amount of pages. There is a hint of overarching story, but it gets pretty lost for the most part — especially in the relentless flow of imagery and narrative. There’s a god that’s been forgotten and desecrated, but this plot is never concluded and the threads at the start of the first volume are never concluded either.
I would suggest just letting that plot hover in the background and enjoying the series as a collection of tales rather than something for the reader to construct into something with more meaning. I would have enjoyed the read much better if I’d known where it ended and not tried to impose something on it that wasn’t ever fully developed.
PTSD Radio progressively loses narrative threads and doesn’t really provide any kind of real conclusion or sense of ending. This is a strength rather than a weakness, since it allows the reader to assume that all of these subtly creepy events are still happening and are doing so without an explanation. Nakayama has a talent for tapping into those liminal moments that we all experience and are instinctually afraid of. A strange reflection in a window pane. The shadows at the end of a hallway. The feeling of being pushed. The feeling of being watched. Building on those themes and using them to expert effect is far more important that provided a satisfying conclusion.
The only frustrating aspect of the series was its digression into Nakayama’s true story of a haunting. It would have been fine, but it was repetitious and in a way that highlighted the information that he intentionally withheld from the story. A writer is not obligated to share aspects of the story that they are not comfortable with, but I found it off-putting that it seemed to form the core of the story and was so conspicuously absent. It made me wonder why Nakayama had chosen to share the story at all and for what reasons he chose to do so.
Honestly, I would have rather read more of the vignettes or a final ending (however lacking in a conclusion it might have been) than this true story presented in pieces.
How Long Can It Possibly Last?
It’s been nearly a week and we’re both still very sick. Appointments have been cancelled, and work has been informed, and I’m trying to just accept all that and not push myself into doing too much, too soon. It’s really easy to just decide that I’m better because I’m producing a few less snot-filled tissues. Usually, I’m not awful when it comes to listening to my body, but colds just short circuit that and I end up getting impatient.
Though, in my defense, this particularly cold is the longest lasting one we’ve had in at least a few years. Hopefully it will be gone by next week!