Lovebites & Razorlines (great title by the way!) collects J. Daniel Stone’s shorter fiction together in a book that pulses with music, passion, sex and art. Short story collections offer readers the chance to follow a path, a journey not only into a writer’s imagination but they also give us a look at a writer’s identity. Identity is something that J Daniel Stone has plenty of. Even with the earlier stories, Stone’s prose is both lyrical (owing a lot I believe to his excellent taste in music), absorbing, sexually charged, dark and highly original.
The biggest thing for me with a story is the character(s). I don’t necessarily need to love a character but I do need to believe in them, to imagine that they are real and to make a connection with them. Whether it be Rez, Alex, Delilah, Dorian or Tyria, it’s the characters that often make Stone’s stories stand out. These are people who often live life on the edge, they seem to come to life at night and express themselves through the arts, be it painting, music or poetry. They don’t really fit in with society, and nor did I during my teens and my early twenties and perhaps this is why I connected with them so much?
As for the stories contained within. I loved reconnecting with Dorian and Tyria in particular from Stone’s novel Blood Kiss. The stories What Makes A Shadow and The Long Lost And Forgotten were personal favourites, though I also really enjoyed a re-read of Wormhole and the excellent Glassjaw-inspired Lovebites & Razorlines. The tales that feature characters from Stone’s other novel, The Absence of Light also hit some real highs.
The biggest compliment one can pay a writer is by telling them they write like no other. Such is the case here. I took my time with this book, savouring the vivid depictions of New York and its host of colourful characters. Stone can make a seemingly mundane rail journey through the cities dark underpass come alive with wonder and the weird. These stories are brimming with sexuality and regardless of your sexual preference, it is nigh on impossible not to be turned-on by Stone’s words. To finish, I don’t believe there is a single story in this collection that I did not thoroughly enjoy. I know from the intro that some of the tales Stone has mixed feelings about now, however, I can honestly say that there is great consistency and quality to the storytelling. Read this book and prepare to make J. Daniel Stone one of your must-read authors.
5/5 blood-drenched kisses from the Grim Reader.
Pick up a copy from here.