Horns (Joe Hill) 4*

horns“Ignatius Martin Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things,”  says the first line.  When Ig wakes up with horns on his head, his girlfriend doesn’t seem to see them, yet she stares.

And then she says strange and terrible things.  The horns trigger unexpected honesty in everyone who (doesn’t) see them, and soon Ig is up to his pointy chin in other people’s secrets.  Grandmothers and little kids tell him their ugliest temptations, and he can’t shut them up.

Even worse, everyone tells Ig what they really think about Ig.  It turns out that the whole town thinks Ig murdered his ex-girlfriend.  If the menfolk had any testicles, says Ig’s priest, they’d have lynched Ig properly.  Not even Ig’s mother believes his innocence.  She wants to write Ig a nice letter, on her nicest stationery, explaining that she loves Ig very much and wants him to go away and never come back.

Ig’s father says something much worse.

Horns is stabbingly funny as it flirts with the ugly and the sublime; Flannery O’Connor on acid.  Someone will have to read it and tell me what Hill has repurposed the cross to symbolize, though.  There’s light and dark and crosses all ticking like Morse code (and there’s Morse code too), and there’s something Hill said that I didn’t quite catch.

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