Book Review: The Laws of Nature by Ashley Franz Holzmann

About the Book:

Image result for the laws of nature Ashley Franz Holzmann

There is a dark side to human nature that neither can be wished away nor completely mitigated. Ashley Holzmann details just several of these “Laws of Nature” before taking his readers on a journey through the bizarre, the terrifying, and, ultimately, the disturbingly real truths that underlie much of modern American life.

Ashley makes his debut into the horror genre with “The Stump,” a story about an afternoon trot through the woods that quickly becomes a blood bath–and, much as it does for that story’s creature, the scent of fear will only lure veteran horror readers further through the forest. A teenager’s vanity will likely cause his town to be consumed by a roaming swarm of insects that burst forth from his acne-riddled skin in “White Heads;” entire populations vanish into the void of the Alaskan tundra in “Glass Houses;” and superiority takes the form of a murdering, sadistic woman in “Lady Macbeth.”

But Ashley’s best retellings focus less on gore and adrenaline and instead take human psychology as their medium, as demonstrated in “Plastic Glasses,” where readers are brought into a world of disturbing personality and mental disorders. Ashley’s work abounds with stories in this vein, stories which grab a hold of a common failing–such as marital friction in “Hush,” or American male frustration in “Orpheus’s Lot”–and take it to an extreme that is nevertheless not inconceivable for most people.

Coming from the mind of a man who has experienced more than his fair share of humanity, “The Laws of Nature” is, at its finest, a description of universal emotions of loss, nostalgia, anxiety, and soul-penetrating terror. Ashley’s stories elicit empathy from his readers and draw them into worlds where they both acknowledge and cuddle with their fears and which leave them, ultimately, more human.

My Thoughts:

Stemming from real life experiences to stories of fiction, this anthology of short stories explores the human psych and the genre of horror. The stories are diverse and the author focuses on fear as one of the main points of many of his stories. It is difficult to pick up or pin-point any one story as they are all similar and different in many ways. The author writes in an abstract style, sometimes seeming to be impersonal. Many of the stories are in first person and the rest a narration. Murder, hate, suicide, fear, life and finally the human psych are some of the topics explored through the stories.

The author will force the reader to think and experience each of the feelings through the stories and inspire them to think. There is so much food for thought and introspection. As a result of reading this anthology, the reader will come away affected, but much more human, stemming from a realization of sorts. It is difficult to describe this as it will differ from person to person, but it is clear that the reader will experience a vast number of emotions in this collection of stories.

Read this for a rare and interesting experience.

Review: The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes

About the Book:

The Minds of Billy Milligan

A portrait of a tortured young man, arrested for a series of kidnappings and rapes, explores the world of a multiple personality, whose traumatic childhood shattered his mind into twenty-four distinct personalities.

My Thoughts:

This book chronicles the life of Billy Milligan who suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder and is said to have had 24 personalities. This biography of the man, written by author Daniel Keyes, tells us the story of Billy’s life. We are given glimpses into his life, shown how his childhood was and the events that eventually led to the existence of his various personalities. Initially, not having been diagnosed, Billy was treated as a different child and everyone thought he was weird. During his college days, he was arrested for rape and armed robbery. It was at this time, that he underwent psychological treatment and eventually diagnosed with MPD.

Initially, Billy was placed in state run mental hospitals and claimed to have received very little treatment. He was diagnosed to have 10 personalities at this time. It was only later on, when he started to undergo treatment under David Caul, did the rest of his personalities emerge.

The biography, as told to Daniel Keyes by the various personalities of Billy, highlights the various incidents in his life. We are shown the immense pressure he was under and he survived. Most of the time, the original person “Billy” was asleep as the others put it. Some of his personalities took turns in taking over his mind to conduct various day to day activities. Each personality was as different from the next as possible and each were talented in their own way. The book brings out the trouble faced and the kind of psychological effect traumatic events can have on the mind of a child as well as on people in general.

It was indeed difficult to read this book as it brought out so many emotions but it does succeed in making the reader stop and think. There is a lot that can be learnt from this book and even though it is an emotional roller-coaster, there are some key points that everyone should walk away with. Most importantly, it is very intriguing and teaches the reader that every action of ours and every word we utter can affect the other person at whom our actions/thoughts are directed. It is essential to be understanding and give people the benefit of doubt before blindly branding them and shunning them. It is rather difficult for me to continue with this review without giving away much of the story, though most of it is quite well known or can be read off the internet. I however strongly suggest that everyone pick up this book and make the effort to read it.

This is a must read for everyone as this book not only chronicles the life of Billy Milligan, it brings out the psychology of the mind in relation to MPD as well as how easy it is for people to brand someone a charlatan or an attention seeker without really understanding them. Moreover, through the eyes of Billy’s personalities, we can form a picture as to why each one came to exist and how they played a part in his life. We are indeed afraid of the unknown and I believe this book gives us great insight into one of the mysteries of the mind.