"There is no delight the equal of dread"
Clive Barker's artistic range is on full display in this toothsome collection of shorts: from haunted shrouds bent on revenge to possessed pigs, each tale is an allegory wrapped in viscera. Along with Angela Carter's 'The Bloody Chamber', 'Books of Blood' rests atop my list when it comes to short story collections. A truly bloody affair.
I can't quite tell if Jess Walter is poking fun at or painting an affectionate portrait of the Inland Northwest here, which is part of what makes this collection so great. The stories - most of which are set in or around Spokane - find characters in situations that feel unique to the region. Yet thanks to the unique cast Walters presents us with - including people who are homeless, recently-divorced, ex-cons - mixed with his knack for excellent deadpan dialogue, you don't have to be from the area to enjoy them.
With the recent trend of short story collections exploring the darker parts of womanhood, it can be difficult to dedicate your time to one book out of all the overwhelming options. However, Armfield's descent into body horror, queer desire, and personal monstrosity stands out due to the delicious decay surrounding her prose. Perfect for fans of Daisy Johnson and Carmen Maria Machado.
A Lucky Man was one of the best books of fiction I read, and then some, in the year of its debut. Brinkley can illuminate and expose seemingly any corner of humanity, with equal compassion and precision. His writing is so powerful and graceful at once that it feels balletic, with a dancer's way of making an incredible feat seem simple and easy.
Funny, dark and often absurd, this debut collection of short stories from the creator of the hit animated series "BoJack Horseman" is a winner. There is heartbreak aplenty, a door into a parallel universe and a theme park, featuring the U.S. presidents with large foam heads. But for me, the goat-infused wedding at the heart of "A Most Blessed and Auspicious Occasion" was itself worth the price of admission.
Small investment, big payoff. Aickman has long been an undervalued and out of print author but is now experiencing a small revival, and this novelette is an ideal place to start. Like much of Aickman, "The Inner Room" is an entrancing seduction, an impossible mystery, and a melancholy siren song. Here memory, psychology, and the external world overlap and confound one another. This is neo-romanticism at its best, shrugging aside the mundane to expose a secret entrance to unfathomable and hazardous depths. Though often characterized as "horror," it's much better to label such Aickman stories as literary dark fantasy--or to use his own term: "strange stories."
The epigraph of Edwidge Danticat's new story collection generously claims that everyone experiences diaspora, as we are exiled from our mother's body as soon as we are born. What follows are stories that strive to prove its' universality with equal attention to tenderness and brutality. In this collection that lingers on family and death, she has tapped directly into the core of human experience. This book will make you cry, probably in public, so prepare accordingly.
Do you like the Twilight Zone? Of course you do. But you might not know Richard Matheson. And you should, because arguably the most iconic episodes were adapted from his masterfully-written short fiction. Each story is so tightly crafted as to border on pulp, each ending twists with a stinger that demands your return. If I'm on a plane: 1) I have a Richard Matheson collection in my carry on and 2) I'm not going to look at the wing of the plane. Yeah. He wrote that.
Maybe you already know her short story "Cat Person," which captured a modern feeling—one that has barely begun to be put in print—so well I felt it in my body. There's more of those sickeningly visceral moments in this collection. The stories feel like urban legends stretched into something else, something you feel in the pit of your stomach and taste at the back of your mouth.
Zweig here captures two striking truths. First, the transition from child to adult comes not by steady gradualism but in catalytic episodes in which the membrane between the two worlds thins by means of betrayal, violence (emotional and otherwise), and critical acts of independence. Second, a shocking number of life's Big Moments would entirely resemble cheap melodrama if not for the transmuting--almost alchemical--effect these moments initiate deep in the souls of innocent parties who are snared in the drama's orbit. A compulsive read!