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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2011
Dan's life is in turmoil, his wife is recovering from an attack and the whole of the family home is in turmoil. Called away to New York on business, his life becomes ever more fractured and then, when he returns home, neither his wife - nor, especially, his young son - seems to be the same. This is a terrifyingly bleak novella, about paranoia and identity and schizophrenia, of modern life and fatherhood that literally had my heart thudding as I raced through the final few pages. As a father, I never want to read anything that makes me feel like this again; as a reader, I'm aware that I've just read something truly momentous. This is a superbly told tale that I would highly recommend to those with a strong enough stomach.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The author has said this is the darkest he has ever gotten and it's not hard to see why.
A bleakness suffuses this novella. Everything about it drives home a despair and darkness that very few stories manage.
This is not a tale for the faint of heart or for someone looking to have an easy read. Instead In The Skin is a dark story that drips atmosphere and dread through every pore. A challenging read but so very worth it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 June 2011
In The Skin isn't a bad brown acid trip. This is pure black acid drawn from a deeply personal dead space where the despair and ennui of the dull, everyday, workaday world collides with bilious love and a vile hate. This is family as fall-out and work as a wasting ground for our finer needs and emotions. This novella will burn you with its chill in a way you will not forget.
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on 16 October 2012
The term 'dark fiction' is often used when describing horror, as if the mere presence of something supernatural is enough to make a story `dark', with or without a sense of bleakness to justify the phrase.

However, Gary McMahon's In The Skin is unquestionably `dark fiction'.

It tells of someone not just disconnected from his family and job, but seemingly from reality itself. The central character is a salesman called Dan, who experiences life as if it is taking place on the other side of a screen; as if reality were covered with cellophane he says at one point. As he flies to New York for work and stays in an anonymous hotel room, his world seems like an early Brett Easton Ellis novel by way of a Radiohead song (not sure if its coincidence or not, but the phrase `fake plastic trees' is used at one point). It takes a good writer to describe this level of detachment without the reader become detached and uncaring themselves, and it's testament to McMahon's prose that this never happens (in fact I read this through in one breathless sitting).

Dan returns home, and the gaps and inconsistencies in his narrative start to pile up. As he notices a strange creature in his garden at night (can it be human?) and small fingerprints on the windows of his house, the reader starts to wonder - just how unreliable is this unreliable narrator?
And then McMahon builds the story to a climax that truly deserves the description `dark'. This is a short and tightly focussed novella, terrifyingly bleak and infused with a sense of paranoia that makes for a unique experience.
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on 18 October 2012
I have read a quite a few of Gary McMahon's stories now and each one has been different to the last; yet they all have this is common: they are incredibly well written and stain your pants scary. This is no different. A first person account of one man's very disturbing reality 'In the skin' allows us a glimpse into the life of a salesman who has more than a few problems. Gary's prose here is spot on. When main character Dan talks us through his day to day life, you feel his pain, his resentment, his confusion. Is Dan crazy or is his wife, his work, perhaps his world conspiring against him. It's a fine line to tread, but McMahon keeps us on the tightrope the whole way right to the horrific (yet very satisfying conclusion). Right from the get go I was hooked. The unsettling imagery, the beautiful use of language and the pay off all add up to one of the best shorts I've read all year. A fantastic read. Highly recommended for those who like their horror intelligent and disturbing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2012
When I started reading this I wasn't keen on the almost overly dramatic wording and the way it's written. It's only a short story, but pretty quickly the style and the words kinds of make sense bearing in mind what this guy is experiencing. It's very bleak and you do see through some of the madness. Very tense though as it descends...
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on 19 November 2013
This is the most I've enjoyed reading a story for probably three years or so.

It's superbly done. Bereft of emotion, told in a sparse and crisp style that lends to the feeling of a man dying slowly inside.

But then, it doesn't quiet take you where you expect to go. Things aren't exactly what they seem, and when you reach the point where you think you've got the story nailed, it goes further, deeper. It's unrelenting, and as other have said, it's bleak. But bleakness presented in such a poignant way (and achingly beautiful, in some respects) it feels kind of like Murakami but on a really nasty acid trip.

I read it in two sittings - maybe a couple of hours - whether you know Gary's work, or not, this is an excellent addition.

Craig Saunders
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"3.5

*** Possible Spoiler Alert ***

My initial gut reaction was that I really did not like this novella, however I did want to finish reading it.

At first I found the pornography to be overly graphic as was the use of a paranoid schizophrenic's illness to scare the heebees out 'a' me. But the harsh reality is that the above illness really could materialise in the manner described and the experiences could be rather more intense and reality distorted or just unable to tell real from unreal. It's a very frightening world indeed for the family in this novella.

Therefore, with further mulling I have upgraded my initial 2 stars to 3.5. I may even read it again and upgrade it again !"
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on 16 December 2013
I purchased this book on the strength of the powerful reviews that have been written about it. Having read the story I can see why it affects people so strongly. This relatively short book tells the story of a man's decent into madness and the ending is deeply disturbing. I was completely gripped and loved McMahons stark style of writing. In the Skin has made me want to buy more of this authors work.
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on 16 January 2015
Excellent, but all of Gary's books are
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