Friday, December 10, 2021

My Heart is a Chainsaw - Stephen Graham Jones

Summary: Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold.

Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges… a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body.

My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph. (Summary and pic from

My Review: You know how you’ve got that one obsession that is kind of niche and you’re always trying to bring it into everyday conversation? Like maybe it’s something you’ve enjoyed your whole life and you know a whole lot about it…like more than a normal amount about it…and now that there’s the internet you can find Your People and y’all can talk about this weird thing you all love and just totally geek out on it? And then maybe you fantasize about using all this knowledge you’ve acquired over the years to wow and stun a captive audience with your knowledge and prowess of this one topic? Well, maybe you could be like Stephen Graham Jones and just write a book!

Stephen Graham Jones is obsessed with slasher/horror movies.

I learned that quite vividly and descriptively while reading My Heart is a Chainsaw. It’s basically an ode to horror movies and all his pet theories. It’s not surprising, really, considering the other book I’ve read by him, The Only Good Indians. So horror and crime are obviously his thing, and this book takes it to the Next Level. He’s obviously been watching every horror movie all his life and loves to talk about them, obsess about them, theorize about them and the characters and why they are who they are and such…and now since he’s become a well-known author, he has an audience who will read it.

Horror movies are not my thing. I’m not into the gore of it all, and body count does not make me excited. So that part of the story? I didn’t love it all that much. However, My Heart is a Chainsaw does have some great things going for it. First off, Graham Jones is a talented writer. The writing is easily accessible, and the story is an interesting one. The main character is flawed and very interesting. She felt authentic but also somewhat unlikeable, which I think was part of the point. I also really enjoy his takes on the culture of Native Americans in the U.S., and especially the complicated relationship of Native Americans and white people. I feel like there is a lot of very relevant social discussion in this book, especially concerning white privilege and rich white people who feel free to come in and take and buy land and try to edge out Native Americans by encroaching and changing their culture and boundaries of an area.

I know that there are a lot of people who love slasher movies, and if you are one of those people, I think you will really get a kick out of this book. It’s almost tongue-in-cheek with the slasher genre, and it is obvious Graham Jones knows A LOT about it and is able to incorporate it into a clever story.

My Rating: 3 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is language and a lot of violence.

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