Edited by Ellen Datlow (2016)
Notes on only a few of the stories in this generous collection:
"Strappado" by Laird Barron
Another story populated by privileged misfits who've slipped a gear and become misaligned with normality. Much like the middle class aristos of "Mysterium Tremendum," hunting sensation and running up against hard facts of a cosmos whose motto is: You can't win.
"The Shallows" by John Langan
Has all weird fiction become a series of shards arbitrarily nested together and called stories? I only ask because "The Shallows" is frustrating in such an obvious way, goading the reader to insights never confirmed in a narrative punishing in its arrogant dismissal of the necessity of sense. A cataclysm, an abused dog, a dying wife, and a missing son are tangled together in a narrative built upon the hero's capacity for self-pity.
"Our Turn Too Will One Day Come" by Brian Hodge is a brilliant folk horror tale about the impact of generations of family secrets. It begins with great poignancy, but grows menacing and suspenseful as layers of rationalizations are peeled away.
"Is there something that makes you more family than I am?"
"So what if there is? That doesn't have to mean it's a good thing."
"Mr. Pigsny" Reggie Oliver
Reggie Oliver leaves his fellow-anthologized authors in the shade. "Mr. Pigsny" is a masterful story, compressed and sharpened by a master. Compared to it, stories above by Barron and Langan seem suffocating, trapped in the charm of their own aloof inconclusiveness.
"The Clay Party" Steve Duffy
A masterpiece on the matter of the "American nightmare." Duffy's ambition gives us a rich vein of a story not to be forgotten.
23 April 2019