Gardening won’t seem like such an innocent pastime after you read this first novel by Dallasite David Searcy, which gives the term “stalking” a nasty new horticultural slant. An elderly Walter Mitty- esque widower, afret over a gopher invasion that has threatened his pride-and-joy roses, orders some exotic flora guaranteed to put off pesky varmints. When the “gopherbane” plants arrive—fuzzy, smelly, weird-looking plants— pretty soon the gophers aren’t the only things in trouble. Cicadas swarm and grackles attack; in the street a dog lies dead—or is that a dog? And then the neighbors’ daughter develops a fascination for the ever-growing plants with their huge blooms. Searcy is clearly paying homage to the likes of The Birds and Little Shop of Horrors, but he has cultivated his own style—one that, like the seedlings, starts out unassuming and grows increasingly, insidiously more macabre. No monsters or murders here; it’s the everydayness of the subjects that gives you chills. (Rubber bands have never seemed so beastly.) That’s what the “ordinary” of the title refers to; the “horror” half is extraordinary indeed.
From the February 2001 Issue Subscribe