Reviews > Published on February 9th, 2015

Bookshots: 'The Visible Filth' by Nathan Ballingrud

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


The Visible Filth

Who Wrote It?

Nathan Ballingrud, a Shirley Jackson Award winning writer of horror and dark fantasy, author of the short story collection North American Lake Monsters (Small Beer Press, 2013).

[The Characters here] don't know what's going on, only that it's fucked up, and there's really nothing they can do about it.

Plot in a Box:

More like plot in a burlap sack, tied up tight and tossed in a river. A cell phone is recovered after a bar room brawl. It does not want to be returned. At least not until you see what it has to show you. You do not want to see what it has to show you. Trust me.

Invent a new title for this book:

The Calls Are Coming From Inside the... Wait, Where the Hell Are the Calls Coming From?

Read this if you like:

The Elvis Room by Stephen Graham Jones, the This Is Horror podcast, the unknowable horror of H.P. Lovecraft.

Meet the book's lead(s):

Superficial slacker Will, a bartender breezing his way through life.

His girlfriend Carrie, who would like a little more caring and a little less breezing from her man.

Alicia, Will's best friend who he decides is destined to be "the one."

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Will: Did I choose Adam Driver last review I wrote? Who cares—Adam Driver.

Carrie: English actress Felicity Jones, who wowed in The Theory of Everything and snagged the lead in Gareth Edward's Star Wars standalone.

Alicia: Carla Juri, the Swiss actress who grossed us out and won our hearts in the graphic coming-of-ager Wetlands.

Setting: Would you want to live there?

In the immortal words of the Yip Yips: Nope, nopenopenopenopenopenopenopenope...

What was your favorite sentence?

Eric began to shriek, repeatedly and in escalating volume, and a host of startled cockroaches scrambled from their lairs, climbing up the walls and rising into the air with their dark, humming wings, a swarm of Christ-bound spirits.

The Verdict:

This isn’t the type of horror you can easily categorize, put inside a box and say, ‘THIS. This is what makes this story scary.’ The Visible Filth is deeply unnerving and you’re not sure why. It has all the requisite thrills and chills, but it’s what’s under the surface that will be your undoing. They say knowing is half the battle, which is why the characters here are at such a disadvantage. They don't know what's going on, only that it's fucked up, and there's really nothing they can do about it.

This Is Horror continues to impress with their series of Chapbook releases. They are pairing up with talented writers like Ballingrud and giving them free reign to put their twisted visions on the page. If the ending of Filth leaves you scratching your head, don't worry, that's the idea. And be careful what you wish for, because the story does continue—at night, after you close your eyes and try to go to sleep. 

About the author

Joshua Chaplinsky is the Managing Editor of LitReactor. He is the author of The Paradox Twins (CLASH Books), the story collection Whispers in the Ear of A Dreaming Ape, and the parody Kanye West—Reanimator. His short fiction has been published by Vice, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Thuglit, Severed Press, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Broken River Books, and more. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @jaceycockrobin. More info at and

Reedsy Marketplace UI

1 million authors trust the professionals on Reedsy. Come meet them.

Enter your email or get started with a social account: