Taking his cue from the Edgar Lee Masters' classic SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY, Rich Ristow, the editor of the project, pitched an irresistible concept: a collection of poems told from the viewpoints of the victims of a fictional mass murderer. The collection would begin with a faux news story detailing the gruesome discovery of countless bodies in the basement of one Charles Lee Eaton, a 62-year-old loner. The victims were to vary across a broad demographic range, with no commonality except for wadded up pieces of paper with handwriting stuffed into their mouths. Creepy, right?
So, thanks to Rich's patience and excellent editorial guidance, my two contributions - "Tyro" and "Chatroom Hustler" - sit alongside accomplished, award-winning poets like Michael Arnzen and Marge Simon and Christopher Conlon. In "Tyro", I imagined that Eaton had an apprentice, while "Chatroom Hustler" is told from the point-of-view of a teenage male prostitute who is lured into the mass murderer's den via an Internet chatroom.
In reading the collection last night, I'm impressed by the quality of the poems Rich accepted and how that one unifying faux news story held these wildly divergent poems together so well. If you've never had an interest in poetry but like horror, then DEATH IN COMMON would be an excellent starting point in what could turn out to be a rich and rewarding reading experience for those open to gettings their goosebumps in new ways.
I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that Ristow (along with new business partner Scott Colbert) went the distance with this collection, rescuing the project from its former publisher who rushed out an earlier (and reportedly inferior) product. Both gents have formed the fledgling Bandersnatch Books, and I'd encourage my readers to support these guys by pre-ordering a copy of DEATH IN COMMON.
"Here's a link to make it easy," he offers, smiling.