Hunger for Annihilation, by John Wesick
Reviewed by Kristen D. Scott
Jon Wesick takes the mundane out of fiction with his inventive new novel, Hunger for Annihilation (Create a Space, 2015). His character Rashid says it best, “…I never eat at the same restaurant twice” and this is what Wesick gives his readers in Hunger, a new tasty bite of fiction (115).
Wesick´s plot is deliciously wicked, trailing an anorexic gourmet food dealer´s vision of an apocalypse from New York´s Lower East Side, to California´s Pacific Coast, using a band of jaded anorexics (The Skinny Liberation Front) to carry out his nefarious plans.
Hunger for Annihilation´s characters are both tragic and heroic. Through the use of flashbacks, Wesick builds a psychological profile for Dillon Montgomery´s (A.K.A, Commander Knut R.) murderous actions. Thus, the reader is privy to a childhood spent in isolation and detachment from an abusive overweight father, and a meek mother who means well –Wanda. One of the most unnerving scenes of the book involves a young Dillon, his father Ray, and a recent catch of fish:
Ray scraped the fish’s skin with the back of his knife and showered the
sink and counter with translucent scales. He cut off the head. The sound of
his knife cutting through bone and gristle made the flesh on the back of
Dillon’s neck twist. The severed head looked up at him from the garbage.
Its once clear eye grew cloudy.
“You cut fillets like this.” Ray sliced flesh from bones. “Now it’s your
turn.” He held out the blood-slick blade to Dillon. “When you finish, Mom
will cook ‘em up.”
Paralyzed with shock and fear, Dillon trembled on the stool. He blinked
to clear his eyes, but tears rolled down his cheeks anyway.
“Jesus Ray, can’t you see he’s too young for this macho bullshit?”
In contrast to the antagonist, Wesick´s protagonist is a petite, raven-cropped haired FBI agent named Rebecca Haddad. Haddad´s character is not the stereotypical Arab woman seen in the media and on film, but a savvy agent with a wounded spirit. Haddad questions her Islamic roots in her spiritual pursuit for truth. She goes through the motions of her FBI assignments, while seeking healing from Sufi´s, Yogi´s, and other meditative mystic teachers:
In deference to her parents’ religion, Rebecca washed her face and hands
and tied a scarf over her head before driving to the mosque. Growing up
Arab American had trained her well for undercover work. She’d learned to
pretend to fit in to two different cultures while belonging to neither. As a
woman she’d always been a second-class citizen in Arab eyes. The West
granted her equal rights to its greedy spiritually bankrupt culture.
As “Annihilation” unfolds, one comprehends the human connection between the protagonist and antagonist in their need to belong, find a purpose, and connect with a higher power, only in different ways – Dillon, through maniacal means, and Rebecca, through honorable ones:
Then Dillon recalled the Hasidic legends of the Lamed-Vov, the thirty-
six saints who preserve the world by their very existence. A path opened
before him. What had once been impossible for a lone righteous man
struggling against the odds now seemed within his grasp. He realized that
killing just one of these thirty-six could provide the shock required to bring
about a new order. At first Dillon questioned the morality of killing a saint
but came to think of them as male mosquitoes.
Love welled up in her heart. She felt at one with the fly that had
annoyed her earlier. He only wanted to escape to the beautiful outdoors.
Rebecca walked to the window and pulled back the curtain. Sunlight
sparkled on the fly’s iridescent green body. He rubbed his hands together
and brought them to his face as if in prayer. Rebecca cupped her hand,
placed it over the window trapping him, and folded her fingers over her
palm to shelter this miracle. She carried him outside and set him free. On
this wonderful sunny day she wished to set all creatures free.
Jon Wesick´s novel, Hunger for Annihilation (Create a Space, 2015) is a delicacy for any reader, offering an innovative suspenseful plot, with dynamic impartial characters that mesmerize. Hunger for Annihilation is riveting, leaving one begging for a continuation. Readers have yet to discover the maximum brilliance of Wesick´s pen.
Kristen D. Scott is a five time nominee of the Pushcart Prize in poetry for five works from her 2014 collection OPIATE. She is an award-winning essayist for her work on Federico Garcia Lorca and his books the Divan del Tamarit, Poet of the Deep Song, and essay, "The Duende."
She has published in several anthologies, newspapers, and ezines, including the San Diego Poetry Annuals, Nomos Review, Perigee, Alesbuyia, and published two poetry collection from Garden Oak Press; LIAISONS (2012) and OPIATE (2014). She has been translated into Arabic, Albanian, Türçe and Bengali. Recently, her work appeared in Nacional an Albanian newspaper (translated by Laureta Peshoti), and she was featured poet in MeArteka (May, 2015) where she had several poems translated into Albanian as well. Her new and selected poems are forthcoming from Garden Oak Press in 2016.
Scott is currently the Editor-In-Chief, founder, and web designer of KNOT Magazine, holds an MFA in Creative Writing, MA in English Literature, and is progressing with her Ph.D in Global Education and Comparative Literature.
Originally from Colorado, Scott has resides on the Riviera in Türkiye, where she has lived for several years.
Host of the Gelato Poetry Series, instigator of the San Diego Poetry Un-Slam, and an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual, Jon Wesick has published hundreds of poems and short stories in journals such as The Atlanta Review, The Berkeley Fiction Review, Pearl, Slipstream, and Tales of the Talisman. His recent novel Hunger for Annihilation published in 2015 from Create a Space, and Yellow Lines in October. Both can be found on Amazon.