I read a detailed synopsis of this short story some time before I was able to find a copy. The synopsis piqued my interest; body horror, a very weird inverse of cosmic horror (where despite the pitiful insignificance of the humans they nevertheless hold the full sadistic attention of a creature of far greater intelligence and power), tortures directly related to previous individual strengths (that old sadistic Dante’s Inferno).
Strangely, reading this synopsis turned out to be a big mistake. By the time I found a copy of the story and read it, I was disappointed in how short the short story was. The synopsis was actually longer. The dry, impartial tone of the synopsis – never trying to force an emotion — made me feel far more horror than the POV character’s monologue – which tried and sometimes missed in being as evocative. The synopsis’ descriptions of the various tiers of rusting hell through which the characters descend was more descriptive and referential than the single segued paragraph used in the short story. So very, very weird.
This whole experience left me thinking more about the potential of using non-fiction voices in fiction storytelling (like a synopsis) as an omniscient narrator who does not in any way attempt to impart an emotional reaction — all while leaving plenty of room for the reader’s brain to fill the gaps with their own, possibly more intense emotional reaction. The premise is memorable, but once is the premise is subtracted from the writing, the writing itself is not memorable.
I wonder if a synopsis of a Stephen King novel would also be more interesting than the novel itself…