Horror whose joys enter from the eye’s edge, demanding, Read me twice, read me twice.
As page five tells, etymologically eschatology, or the study of last things, means to read schat—which is why the expletive “shit” litters these pages. Searcy’s debut, Ordinary Horror (2001), asked for a patient reader, one who could strip each phrase for the riddle beneath. Nothing has changed. The only true way to review Searcy is to quote him at length and let him either sell or hang himself, since his writing offers mandarin hardships not all wish to face. Even so, here is the plot, seen through a page darkly: Revelation is coming to East Texas, the biblical revelation, although the gorgeous symbolism of Revelations is easier to follow than Searcy’s darting shadows. Weird scarecrows, if that’s what they are, pop up all over Sulphur Springs. Luther (“Oh shit”) Hazlitt comes home to his banged-up trailer, finds his cattle fled, puppies gone, power out, fridge warm, dead chicken in the yard, and a set of clothes hanging from a tree as if the owner had been jerked out of them. His chow bites him on the forearm. His graying girlfriend Agnes tells him they’re getting baseball hail in Sulphur Springs. Sheriff Bobby shows off his biblical Leviathan, a 300-pound catfish, at Joe’s Big Juicy Hamburger Restaurant. Crazy humid weather gets people to praying in the streets, talking about Last Things—the Rapture! More animals die. A child disappears. Something lurks about Luther’s henhouse and trailer, so Luther builds a big trap to catch it. Can it be the Holy Spirit? Then Sheriff Bobby gets messily, fatally cut up—by whom? And when the trap fails, Luther turns his trailer into a really big spring-hinged trap. As with Ordinary Horror, Searcy’s climax has its hints but will leave most readers hanging. What? What?
Many will fade early—and miss the immensely funny, weird-ass, bottom-dog East Texas dialogue that carries us over the dense prose.