Now, this won't hurt a bit.

Now, this won’t hurt a bit.

“People don’t usually remember their dreams, as is my understanding, but one time when I was about ten or twelve I had a dream about a skeleton bear that I will never forget.”

While I do sometimes enjoy a heavy book that will let me sink my teeth into it and entertain me for a week or so, there’s a lot to be said for a book that can be breezed through in a couple of hours. They’re no less interesting or important, but sometimes they feel like breathers, mere day trips into fictional worlds that require just a light bag, rather than packing a few suitcases.

At just over 120 pages, Stitches is perfect for a quick jaunt. Self-published by Tom Reimann, I can’t for the life of me remember where I found out about it from, but nonetheless I did and have just set about reading it. This is the story of Pete, Auger and Jill. Pete and Auger are roommates, but Pete is continually freaked out by Auger and his way of never quite making eye contact. He’s never seen inside Auger’s bedroom, and prefers to communicate by pushing notes under the door than ever daring to knock. Jill works with Pete at a local sandwich shop, and the two might have feelings for each other, but they try not to talk about them.

Pete hates his job and idly dreams of one day getting stabbed at work, not fatally, but badly enough that he can claim a massive payout and never have to go back. When he happens to share this idea with Auger one day, he does so without really thinking about it. Had he not considered the fact that his roommate has just purchased a huge chest freezer, occasionally comes down to dinner with blood on his clothes, and claims to be a medical student but never seems to attend classes, he might not have been so quick to share up his secrets…

First up, do not read this book while you’re eating. I’m not going to go into details here, but as you may be able to tell from the introduction above, Auger is not exactly normal, and some of the scenes depicted here are quite graphic. The writing is good, though, and very realistic on the issue of what is physically happening, but the psychological implications of what’s going on aren’t explored quite so deeply. The characters are more than two-dimensional, certainly, but there remains a certain something about them that makes them not quite realistic. Perhaps it’s Jill’s quick recovery after she cuts herself too deeply one night, or how everyone reacts to events once Auger’s bedroom has been seen.

The plot also jumps around a little too disjointedly, with sections from the viewpoint of the three main characters, as well as an omniscient third-person narrator. Generally these changes are marked well, but sometimes it catches you off guard. It also leaps here and there in time, too, and you find out things in the wrong order, sometimes leading to some confusion. The characters also seem to have different audiences; Pete is talking as if to a friend, Jill seems to be penning a diary or a letter, and Auger appears to be writing himself notes, or perhaps also a diary.

It’s not a bad book, and I applaud the mind that can create something so dark, though I might also have to worry about it a little bit. But not too much, as I’ve written gore into my own work. Give it a go if you like your stories dark and disturbing, but don’t come here expecting flowers and kittens.