Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

Mike’s review

The way small life changes are vigorously tracked (“Tracing of movements was the whole of the process.”), calling Milwaukee’s Best “The Beast.” Small town Midwest life nailed. Taco John’s and Potato Ole’s.


Months later plot summary: A video store clerk (set in the time where video stores are even starting to go out of business in small towns) starts to notice that someone is splicing in disturbing (though not quite violent, more just weird and cult-ish) home videos into the store’s rentals. There doesn’t seem to be a particular pattern to what is selected or what is spliced in. He doesn’t really want to, but feels compelled to figure out what’s going on. And there’s more, but not much more I’m realizing now. There’s a fair amount of backstory regarding the person who splices. Mostly this is a mood piece, but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like there’s a plot here, but I don’t know that there is. It’s kinda like what I remember True Detective season 1 to have been like. But I could be wrong about that.


Page 18: first person reference to narrator. Jarring and out of place, but I have a feeling it’s not the last.


No idea what’s going on as Part Four starts, but so compelled to read. And then it keeps going and you come to understand and feel weirdly gross and awful and yuck.


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