Matthew Warner's first novel managed to do a near-impossible thing these days. He created an original and unique antagonist in a horror novel. In a time when even the best of the genre are publishing regurgitated plots, The Organ Donor featured a villain unlike any I've read about before. However, not only did the novel have a timely premise and an unusual menace, it was an astonishingly assured and confident debut. The Organ Donor showed a new writer with more than potential...it introduced us to a man who appears to be a natural born writer.
Eyes Everywhere has a very different sort of monster in its pages. One that is very real and very terrifying. More frightening than what most horror fiction has to offer. The monster is called Schizophrenia. Most of us have an inkling of what schizophrenia is all about and I think that all of us have moments where we feel a slight bit of it. Yet very few have an intimate knowledge of the hell that an individual goes through when afflicted with it. After reading Eyes Everywhere, I think that Matt either has a nasty case of schizophrenia himself, or he has done exhaustive research on the subject. I hope the latter scenario is the case with him.
Eyes Everywhere is the story of a man grappling with schizophrenia. He sees menaces at every turn and believes he is uncovering a fiendish plot to enslave the country. What makes this novel work is the uncertainty of what are the man's delusions and how much of the oppression is real. That is what keeps Eyes Everywhere from being a mere fictional study of schizophrenia and makes it a gripping suspense novel.
It reminds me of a gag from a Woody Allen movie. Woody is challenged by his boss, who says, "There's a word for those that think that everyone is against him". Woody responds with, "Yes, perceptive".
Eyes Everywhere is a study of urban paranoia in a time where paranoia is the norm. It takes place in post-9/11 Washington, DC, and officials believe the next attack is right around the corner. The reader is lured into the mind of someone consumed by the current fears of not only terrorist attack, but also the very real fear of loss of job, home, security and family. It's understandable. Our society is one of infinite uncertainty and dread. If the terrorists don't get us, we'll be the victim of the economy, or even our own Government. Perhaps the most terrifying thing about Eyes Everywhere is how easy it is to enter the mind of its main character. In today's world, if you're not scared, you must be crazy.
The lead character in Eyes Everywhere is a normal guy named Charlie Fields. Charlie has a low-level job in the legal industry and he is a husband and a father. As the novel begins, he starts to fear for his position at the firm as well the security of his family. Every nuance of his surroundings are a menace, from trash on the ground to the people he contacts. Becoming more desperate and terrified by the hour, Charlie crosses societal lines that ensure that life as he knew it can never be regained. The questions remain....is Charlie a victim? If so, is his mind the culprit, or something far more sinister? But what could be more terrifying than being betrayed by one's own mind?
Eyes Everywhere is not just a good novel; an entertaining way to pass a few evenings. I think it's an important work, a work that deserves more exposure than the small press can give it. Matthew Warner is not a young writer on the move. No, with this complex and utterly unnerving work, I see Matt as the equal of just about anyone in the field. And damned near beyond it. At a time when I am becoming increasingly disillusioned in the small horror press, Raw Dog Screaming gives us this classic novel with a new, yet familiar menace in its pages. It re-establishes my faith in the small publishing houses.
And lest I forget, the Afterword to Eyes Everywhere was done by Gray Braunbeck. As with anything with his name on it, this piece is thought-provocative and rewarding. One more reason to buy this book. As if you needed one.
If you're interested in Eyes Everywhere or its talented author, please visit Matt Warner at his online home.