Literature, particularly horror literature is in a pretty exciting place right now. I don't see any other time period where a book like Elle Nash's Deliver Me gets released. Sure, you had historical outliers like Marquis de Sade, William S. Burroughs, and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch but there is something uniquely fresh about Deliver Me. The narrative plays out in a setting that feels lost in time, a world where thrift shops exist in single-wide trailers and sermons are delivered that wouldn't feel out of place in the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne. This Southern gothic, if you can even call it that, approaches familiar themes such as capitalism, gender dynamics, religious trauma, and the fickle relationship between pleasure and pain in a way that feels personal to Nash. I can make all the obvious blurb comparisons like "a mix of Upton Sinclair and David Cronenberg," "white trash Clive Barker," or "a collection of Tobe Hooper's wet dreams" but they all cheapen how bold Deliver Me is as a work of literature. We've all seen the corrupt priest shouting out fire and brimstone but rarely does the perspective from the pew seem so personal.
Life is gross, the process of creating life can be gross from a certain perspective, and Elle Nash knows this. One of the greatest disappointments I've had as a writer is just how mundane most artists are, nevermind the personalities, politics, and personal lives but how samey their works all are. The best praise I can give this book is that it is genuinely weird. I seek out weird fiction and there were multiple chapters that disturbed me. Whether you're a dog or a cat person, it has something to make you pause before turning the page. It has the most disturbing use of insects I think I've ever read. What is truly impressive is to see a work exploring sexuality without ever being sexy. Human beings are strange. The fetishes we develop are bizarre from an outside perspective. Deliver Me is unrelenting. From the first page, things aren't in a good place but with each page read, the reader feels as though they are trudging towards inevitable disaster.
We're all familiar with Rosemary's Baby and the horror of a woman's pregnancy experience. I can't recall another story about the fear of not having a child. As a 29 year old who is watching everyone else move forward in their lives while feeling stuck in place, despite being a man, I strangely found myself relating to the narrator's struggle. Even if you are happy for those around you, there is a germ of jealousy you try to suppress. Nash treats this, rightfully so, as a cancer which metastasizes and grows to become fatal. Although the story is scary, I don't know that I would describe it as "horror." It feels to me more like a tragedy, with many moments of disgust and dread. The characters are human and hopeless. You are both afraid of and for them. Often, you're shocked by their actions and what they do in their moments of desperation. They talk at each other but rarely communicate. When they fuck they are just using each other to get what they want. Despite reading the events play out from the self-assured comfort of fremdschamen, that we'd never stoop so low, there is the horrifying memory of the terrible ways we have degraded ourselves in moments of desperation. Do these characters feel so familiar because we've seen their type on Jerry Springer, in true crime shows, or because we've run into them at the gas station?
In a time where so much art is so fucking boring, it's refreshing to read a good book that I couldn't recommend to everyone.
Buy Deliver Me on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Deliver-Me-Elle-Nash/dp/1951213718/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=deliver+me+elle+nash&sr=8-1
Elle Nash's site: https://www.ellenash.net/