Friday, March 31, 2017
Hey, Daveigh Chase!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have I Got A Role For You!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It took some time to process "Universal Harvester," because, while the novel starts out giving the reader the expected, it turns around and gives something else.
Meaning what starts out as a conventional horror story switches to be a meditation on real life horrors, such as loneliness, loss, and alienation.
Jeremy Heldt works a boring, small town job in a boring small town called Nevada, Iowa. (The first "a" in Nevada is pronounced "ay.) He lives with his widowed father, Steve, who works in construction, and the two share a joint existence, united by the tragedy, six years before, of the death of Jeremy's mother and Steve's wife, in a car accident.
The supervisor at the video store is a lonely middle ager named Sarah Jane Shepperd. There is a patron, a regular named Stephanie, who comes to the store for movies, but also out of loneliness. Then, there is Lisa Sample.
Before this sounds too much like William Inge, a note of the supernatural is interjected. A patron returns a copy of Peter Bogdanovich's film, "Targets," to the store, insisting that, midway through the film, it breaks and, suddenly, several minutes of disparate imagery--farm land, a silo, a woman running across the landscape--appears, and then the film mysteriously resumes.
This is beginning to sound like "The Ring."
Even more, when several others complain of the same thing on other tapes. Jeremy is loathe to look, and so is Sarah Jane. But they do, and become obsessed with solving the mystery of who altered the tapes, how, where, and why.
To go further would spoil the surprises and challengers Mr.Darnielle outlines for the reader. I will say Lisa Sample is the character who brings all the other folk, and plot threads together. How she does this, and why, is the reason for reading this intimate novel of only 214 pages, which covers so much, at a breakneck pace.
Lisa is the role Daveigh Chase would be perfect for. At first, she might be thought of as an adult version of "The Ring's" Samara, but there is more realistic tragedy behind her. Daveigh could play both sides superbly. So, Daveigh, or her agent, give this book a look immediately.
The lasting genius of this work is the use of videotapes. The story takes place just when they are starting to lose favor, before the massive DVD onslaught. Nevada residents have no other media resources. But, like a film reel unspooling, this allows Darnielle's tale to unsppol.
"Universal Harvester" is a horror novel for deep thinkers. It is open to interpretation and discussion. But it should not be missed.