Elaine by Ben Arzate
Record store owner Chris leaves his shop in the hands of a good friend while he heads to Elaine, a small town in upper Michigan, to meet his girlfriend, Agnes, for her recently deceased mother’s funeral.
Strangely, a single train is the only way into town. Even stranger, Agnes is nowhere to be found there. As Chris searches for her, more and more questions come up. Why is he suddenly having recurring nightmares? What's the deal with the fire-and-brimstone preacher on the local TV station? Why is almost every woman in town named Elaine?
And why can't he leave?
“Arzate’s latest, Elaine, is a deliciously-twisted, cinematic little thriller that recalls The Wicker Man in its conspiratorial coda, pervasive gender conflict, and surreal flourishes. Here, the hallucinations (if that’s what they are) are often sexual and masochistic in nature, revealing a psyche (or, perhaps a reality) in the process of breaking down. Whether Elaine is ultimately a parable about love; a cautionary tale about the insular extremes of community; or a brief, terrifying trip into the world of psychological horror what’s abundantly clear is that Arzate knows how to push our buttons, to keep us hooked to this novel’s bloody, surprisingly poetic end.”
- Kurt Baumeister, author of Pax Americana