While wandering in the desert, Saw Kennedy, the protagonist of WM Dimes’ novel Voice in the Horse, stumbles upon a dimension-shifting house that rescues him from certain death yet exacts a price for this rescue: Saw’s freedom. Inside the house, Saw meets a host of bizarre characters, including Widget, Tim with a Bullet, and Poolhall Sammy, who describes himself as “more centaur than machine.” As the story unfolds and the house’s dimensions start to shift, Saw’s sense of reality rapidly deteriorates. Meanwhile, his paranoia increases–perhaps justifiably so. For the house, it turns out, is a living, thinking organism of sorts, possessed by a spirit that may be, in the protagonist’s addled estimation, “god, or the devil, or whoever spread their sweat upon human clay before there were stories to tell.”
Did I mention that it’s a bizarre and mind-bending piece of experimental fiction?
As maddening as Voice in the Horse may be for the casual reader, it’s not without precedents. Dimes’ writing immediately reminded me of Bob Dylan’s Tarantula, a book of poetry as warped with circular logic and wordplay as any of his songs from the Highway 61 Revisited or Blonde on Blonde era. Then there’s Nathanael West’s The Dream Life of Balso Snell, which presents the tale of a hapless young man’s journey through the entrails of the Trojan Horse. And The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien. Not to mention the Doctor Who: Voyager comic strip series, which originally appeared in Doctor Who Magazine in 1984. What all of these pieces have in common with Voice in the Horse is that they play with the concept of reality. Moreover, they all, Voice in the Horse included, are densely layered both in terms of language and existential inquiry, and thus beg for multiple readings.
Given, however, that experimental literature is not everyone’s cup of tea, the good folks who publish Voice in the Hose are more than willing to let you sample the goods for free. CanaD.I.Y., an imprint (as their name suggests) from Canada, is, in their own words, “a small sort of thing with a focus on keeping costs low for you, a beautiful person, and engaging you beautiful persons in as many ways as possible.” To this end, they’ve made Dimes’ novel, like all of their titles, available for free as a PDF download. What this means in practical terms is that you have nothing to lose beyond a little bit of space on your hard drive. If you’re even a little bit curious about Voice in the Horse, you can click here, download the PDF, and give the novel a try. Not a bad deal at all.