Insanity by Increments by Alaric Cabling is a work of Gothic literary short fiction about people on the edge – isolated from other people, and from themselves.. No one acts predictably, nor does the world around them. It’s not just the characters who have dark impulses, the world they inhabit is just as sinister.
The collection is moody, cerebral, and ultimately very affecting. In each of the stories, men grapple with isolation and abandonment. Some of their lives are mundane and ordinary, while some are truly outcasts, but they all share a similar sense of alienation. The collection could have devolved into narcissism or self-pity, but it never does. What separates Insanity by Increments from other “angry young man” fiction is that it takes a turn into the surreal. The stories are at once a realistic look at the human condition, and how that human condition is put to the test in increasingly distressing, and frankly strange, scenarios.
The title is very apt: this collection is a slow burn. It’s not horror in the traditional sense, with jump scares and obvious terror, but it’s harrowing all the same. The stories are recommended for fans of Poe, Hawthorne, Lovecraft and Maupassant, but with a more modern sensibility. To this reviewer, that’s a very potent combination for a work of literary short fiction.