This 2017 chapbook by New Brunswick author Lee D. Thompson is either the work of a literary genius or a literary madman (not that the two are mutually exclusive). Having a small acquaintance with Mr Thompson impels me to put him in the former category as this 35-page exercise in creative writing left me staggered by his vision into the schizophrenic mind of Lester, a young man who lives in his mother’s basement, refuses medication and communes nocturnally with Lara, a Slow Loris in the city’s zoo.
Lester is also the patient of Doctor Shabazz, a psychiatrist who Lara refers to as the “mouth human”. Perhaps because he talks more than he listens, unlike Lester (her ‘Friend Human’), who furiously scribbles down every utterance emanating forth from Lara’s mind (“I’m her amanuensis” he informs Dr Shabazz):
“Lara, even when she sleeps, teaches me. She teaches me to listen, and to not listen.”
In an author Q & A over at Goodreads, I mentioned to Mr Thompson that reading his chapbook brought to mind the type of wondrous dreams one frequently has wherein there exists a small iota of truth or reality, but the settings, colours and dialogue are all surreal. He responded:
“Reality is all around us, so why reproduce it? Why be safe? I like sudden left turns, feeling lost and trusting the author. Dreams influence my fiction, influence any art I do. Take the grain, that fluctuation, and create a world from it.”
Mr Thompson consigns significant trust to the reader to interpret the sparse verbal exchanges as well as the strained interactions between Doctor Shabazz and Lester (the golf vs. croquet session is a particular highlight: “I played golf as a boy, Lester.” “And then as a girl, Doc?”) as well as his responses to Lara’s various “enlightenments”.
Mr Thompson gets inside a story like a jazz musician gets inside a familiar song, turning it upside down and inside out, leaving threads of it recognisable if you listen closely. A talented musician will inspire the listener in the way an author who has a way with words will inspire a reader causing him or her to ponder over the story long after the book is shelved. Lee D. Thompson’s mouth human must die is a concise, exceptional example of inspired creative writing.
You can purchase mouth human must die directly from Frog Hollow Press. This is Volume Two in the New Brunswick Chapbook Series from Frog Hollow Press. Currently, 150 copies have been printed.
Lee D. Thompson is a writer whose fiction has been published in five anthologies, including Random House’s Victory Meat, New Fiction from Atlantic Canada and Vagrant Press’s The Vagrant Revue of New Fiction, and in more than a dozen literary journals across Canada and the US. His first novel, S. a novel in [xxx] dreams, was published in 2008 by Broken Jaw Press. He also records music under the name Pipher.