This sick world, though, offers abundant pleasures, especially narrative-driven art that offers “joy, solace, growth.” In ’99 Cardin declares that his life’s purpose is to develop his own talents “to their greatest possible expression,” before immediately weighing that impulse against the purpose of being “a husband, father, or son.” His consideration of these sometimes conflicting impulses builds to a rousing affirmation of the imperative of art. Contributing to the tone of frustrated searching is Cardin’s life in the Ozark tourist town of Branson, MO, in the thick of its transformation into “a down-home country version of Las Vegas.” He observes that shift from jobs like director of video at the Glen Campbell Goodtime Theater. (This is the rare book to consider both Glen and Joseph Campbell on the same page.)
Lovers of weird fiction will relish Cardin’s insights, story ideas, unsettling dreams, and reports on his reading, game-playing, and his fascinating spiritual and philosophical development—he sometimes flirts with nihilism, adores purity in horror, but also teaches youth bible study groups. The result is epic and intimate, a portrait of a mind and a milieu, with deep dives into the creative mind, the nature of the weird, and how to find one’s way in a world that’s sick.
Takeaway: The fascinating journals of a writer of and authority on weird fiction, facing the 1990s.
Great for fans of: S. T. Joshi’s What Is Anything?, Arthur Machen’s Autobiographical Writings of Arthur Machen.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A