A review of Charles de Lint’s “Pity The Monsters” in The Ultimate Frankenstein (Simon & Schuster Inc., 1991)
By Derek Newman-Stille
I was surprised to see that Charles de Lint set his Frankenstein tale Pity The Monsters in the city he invented – Newford – a city that he generally sets tales of fairies and fantasy in, but in doing so, he illustrated the fantasy quality of Frankenstein tales, and he stuck to areas that he has often evoked in his Newford-centred stories. De Lint used a Frankenstein tale to explore ideas of poverty and homelessness, setting his tale in the impoverished part of Newford generally called The Tombs, an area of abandoned buildings that house squatters of the human and supernatural variety. De Lint explores the interweaving of normal city life with the uncanny, as he generally does in his Newford tales, having characters pulled out of their normate lives as they encounter something seemingly otherworldly. He illustrates to his audience that normalcy is a facade, a construction, and that it is a thin veneer that shows its artificiality when scratched.
Pity The Monsters is a tale that explores ideas of mental illness and altered perceptions while also examining the dispossession that often faces people with mental illness. It explores parental abuse and violence, entitlement and bodies, because Frankenstein IS a tale of violence, parental abuse, and entitlement over the bodies of others. It is a tale about the pain of Otherness and rejection and a tale about the policing of othered bodies.
To find out more about Charles de Lint, go to https://www.sfsite.com/charlesdelint/