Today my author-love series continues with a post about why I think Robert Jackson Bennett is amazing, and why you should read his books (and love them). This series will take place every Monday (unless I forget or run out of people to talk about).
Have you ever thought to yourself, “Self, I’d really like to read an author that reminds me a lot of Neil Gaiman, but has a different enough feel to make me realize that this is not actually Neil Gaiman, but is actually another author that is just as crazy fantastic with an amazing imagination and unique style all his own?”
Well, if you’ve ever thought something like that, then you’ve probably run across Robert Jackson Bennett, or you are about to, after you read this post. You see, the thing about Bennett is that he reminds me a lot of Gaiman. Despite their very different writing styles and the different tones of the stories they tell, Gaiman and Bennett have some similarities. It is those similarities that make both authors shine so brightly in my mind.
One of the similarities between two authors is the way both men put a spin on our world and our reality. Bennett’s twits on reality have a darker edge. He flirts with horror and (I’d say) magic realism. He spans the gamut of topics, from Mr. Shivers, a unique and dark take on the Great Depression, to The Troupe which was an absolutely breathtakingly beautiful book about vaudeville. Then you have The Company Man, a fantastic spin on big business and American Elsewhere, a horror story set in a unique backwater town in New Mexico. Bennett takes our world and infuses it with the mystical and magical. His books are fascinating because they make me see things so differently.
There are a few authors who I admire for more than just their writing and creativity. There are the few (Okay, false, there are a lot of authors on this list, but only a few near the top of it) who land firmly on my list of writers with brains I admire. Bennett falls on that list. His books are fascinating because they twist our world and reality in the most delicious ways, but his mind allows him to play with deeper themes that hook readers and haunt them. Bennett is a writer who works on numerous levels. Through him, I’ve looked at the Great Depression differently. I’ve thought about big business in ways I never expected to. The Troupe made gave me one hell of a hankering to learn more about vaudeville and that culture. I actually studied small towns in New Mexico for weeks because of American Elsewhere. Bennett makes me want to learn. His writing fills me with a hunger to discover more about our world and our history in a way I never expected to before.Through him, I’ve realized that the world is full of magic and mystery.
It’s a gift to read a book that fills you full of the hunger for discovery.
And, if that wasn’t enough, Bennett has this way with writing that just slays me. There are some authors that scratch my itch every time I read one of their books, and he’s one of them. I don’t know what it is about his prose, but they have some quality that absolutely captivates me, fully absorbs me, and causes his characters to attach themselves to my soul for long after I turn the last page. Yes, Bennett’s writing is lyrical and flowing, but his darker edge shines in some fantastically subtle ways. Bennett turns words into magic that charms his readers. His books pull you under their spell, and they’ll leave you looking at the world with new vision.
If you asked me to honestly tell you who some of my favorite authors are that I’ve recently discovered, Robert Jackson Bennett would be near the top of the list. His unique spin on reality and history entices me. He’s smart, and he doesn’t hide it. His books are complex, deep, and layered. His writing is flowing, captivating, absorbing, with that darker edge I absolutely crave. Bennett defies genre labels. He’s urban, historical, dark, realistic, raw, untamed, scary, and scientific and so much more. He is his own animal, and he refuses to be tamed. Bennett has blazed his own trail, and the speculative fiction genre thanks him for it.
So why should you read Robert Jackson Bennett? For all the reasons above, but mostly because you’ve never read anything like what he puts out and it’s a rare treat to discover something new.