31 Shots of Shock #9: ‘Pop Art’ by Joe Hill

*Title: ‘Pop Art’ by Joe Hill.
Date Read: 09 October 2011
Available Online?: NO, taken from, 20th Century Ghosts (PS Publishing).
Briefly: The narrator has a best friend called Arthur Roth, who is a little different than most. You see Arthur isn’t human at all, rather he’s an inflatable balloon, very much in the shape of a human and coming with certain human characteristics. The narrator tells us something of their life together
Afterthoughts: From Joe Hill (son of the great Stephen King), comes a story that’s as imaginative as anything I’ve ever read. A ‘shot of shock’ this one definitely isn’t (I even fail to see how it’s found its way into Hill’s ghost story collection), but it remains a beautifully crafted tale, and it’s one which sticks in the mind well after reading it.

As I briefly explained this story features an inflatable balloon in the shape of a person, and thinking about it one can look at this storyline in two ways: 1) Hill has created a world where the occasional inflatable ‘person’ is floating around 2) The fact that this inflatable ‘balloon’ engages in certain human acts, is a figment of the narrator’s imagination. I like to think of it as the former (especially when Arthur in this story has bona fide parents – ‘filled with blood and not air’ (Arthur’s condition is described as genetic) – so difficult to imagine that too), because the idea of having prospective companions floating around is a warming one. Trouble is, even thinking such a thing after reading this story, only reinforces the fact that Pop Art is about as scary as an episode of My Little Pony :). So, not a perfect choice for a tale of terror, but enjoyable all the same.

Notable Quote: When I tell you we talked, I mean only to say we commu­nicated, argued, put each other down, built each other up. To stick to facts, I talked – Art couldn’t. He didn’t have a mouth. When he had something to say, he wrote it down. He wore a pad around his neck on a loop of twine, and carried crayons in his pocket. He turned in school papers in crayon, took tests in crayon. You can imagine the dangers a sharpened pencil would present to a four-ounce boy made of plastic and filled with air.

Rating: ★★★★☆

*Story read as part of my 2011 31 Shots of Shock reading project.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).

Comments

  1. Every year at this time I think I will finally crack open 20th Century Ghosts but then the season passes and I put it away for next year. Same this year. 😉