Raindrops fell like tears from a black tar god -- or drops of rancid milk from a dead mother's breast.
That line comes from The Rising, the first novel by horror writer Brian Keene, and when I read it, mere minutes ago, I had to ask myself (since Keene wasn't available to ask personally): "Well, which is it? Tears from a black tar god and rancid breast milk sound like two pretty different things to me. Presumably, one is black and the other is white, or off-white. So is the rain black or white, or just normal rain-colored? And if that's irrelevant to you, then how can rain fall 'like breast milk'? I can allow that tears from a black tar god might fall like rain, because gods are not only big, but tend to be located above-ground, so I'm fine with that. But when has breast milk ever rained down on anything?"
It appears to me as though Keene simply wasn't satisfied with black tar god tears standing in for rain, and needed another image that involved liquid -- preferably gross liquid, as that seems to be his MO -- to pair it up with, so that readers could take their pick. But it's terrible writing. It's a meaningless cluster of similes that also indicates that you've placed yourself in the hands of a writer who is, among other things, indecisive.
Just a few pages later:
She was safe for now.
Or was she? What if there was a zombie in here with her, lurking in the darkness, waiting to lunge out and eat her?
I don't know, Brian Keene, you tell me. You're the guy who wrote the book. But thanks for reminding me that this is a zombie novel I'm reading. I'd very nearly forgotten! And I do also appreciate this window into the mind of the character. Knowing that she's worried about being eaten by a zombie really brings her alive.
Just a few paragraphs down:
...she couldn't see her ears, but she knew they were scarlet.
Hey, I can't see my ears, either, unless there's a mirror handy! It's like I know this girl!
You get the idea. This book is just grade-school bullshit. I'm writing this out of an immense feeling of frustration, which coincides with a bit of introspection regarding why I seem to want to continue to cling to the horror genre. The vast majority of it does me very few favors. And I certainly can't find my way to thinking of myself as a member of the horror fan community, because it's utterly beyond me how that group can embrace and praise a great writer like Thomas Ligotti, while doing the same to someone like Keene. The Rising is an award-winning book, for God's sake. Horror fans, by and large, seem to be completely unable to tell good writing from bad, and I'm getting a little fed up with it.
Although, hey, here's something interesting. One of the authors who provided a blurb for The Rising is Richard Laymon. "A top-notch horrifying thriller!" he proclaims. Except that The Rising was first published in 2003, and, erm, Richard Laymon died in 2001. So...I don't really...