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Poe's Children: The New Horror (anthology)
Anyone concerned about the future of horror will find plenty of reassurance in this outstanding reprint anthology showcasing short fiction by today's best writers in the genre. Straub (The Throat) skillfully varies tempo and style, mixing stories of psychological terror with more traditional ghostly tales. Thomas Tessier puts a fresh spin on the empty old house theme in the memorable In Praise of Folly, in which the lonely protagonist pursues his fascination with bizarre structures to the Adirondacks. Tessier subtly raises chills even as the tale proceeds to its inevitable and dark conclusion. Another winner is Dan Chaon's The Bees, a powerful account of a man haunted by mistakes of the past. Ramsey Campbell's terrifying The Voice of the Beach echoes Algernon Blackwood's classic The Willows, with its account of two friends' fateful encounter with a remote beach that may be an entry point to another dimension. Aimed at a general audience, this volume also includes works by Stephen King, Elizabeth Hand, Kelly Link and Joe Hill.
With an introduction by the much honored Straub (Ghost Story), this collection can be dubbed New Wave horror, considering that most of its 24 stories were published fairly recently and it includes contributions by celebrity horror writers. The tales mostly eschew buckets of blood, instead employing mood and suggestion in the manner of Edgar Allan Poe. "Little Red's Tango," Straub's lengthy quasigospel of a record-collecting obsessive, complete with beatitudes and a seductive demon, ably represents the editor's definition of New Wave horror. All the stories honor Poe, like the moody, contagious delusions of Stephen King's "The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet." The genre can be literary, as exemplified by Tia V. Travis's vengeful "The Kiss," Thomas Tessier's surprising "In Praise of Folly," and, probably the most demonstrably Poe-like, Ramsey Campbell's "The Voice of the Beach," featuring a neurasthenic narrator, suffocating suggestibility, and nearly palpable imagery. Brian Evenson's creepy "Body" and Dan Chaon's touching "The Bees" culminate in the horror of bad deeds catching up. The other stories included are without exception excellent.
Horror writing is usually associated with formulaic gore, but New Wave horror writers have more in common with the wildly inventive, evocative spookiness of Edgar Allan Poe than with the sometimes-predictable hallmarks of their peers. Showcasing this cutting-edge talent, POE'S CHILDREN now brings the best of the genre's stories to a wider audience. Featuring tales from such writers as Neil Gaiman and Jonathan Carroll, POE'S CHILDREN is Peter Straub's tribute to the imaginative power of storytelling. Each previously published story has been selected by Straub to represent what he thinks is the most interesting development in our literature during the last two decades.
Selections range from the early Stephen King psychological thriller 'The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet,' in which an editor confronts an author's belief that his typewriter is inhabited by menacing creatures, to 'The Man on the Ceiling,' Melanie and Steve Rasnic Tem's award-winning surreal tale of night terrors, woven with daylight fears that haunt a family. Other selections include National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon's 'The Bees' ; Peter Straub's 'Little Red,' the legend of a music aficionado whose past is as mysterious as the ghostly visitors to his Manhattan apartment; 'Insect Dreams' ; and 'Body,' Brian Evenson's disturbing new twist on correctional facilities.
Crossing boundaries and packed with imaginative chills, POE'S CHILDREN bears all the telltale signs of fearless, addictive fiction.
The Bees - Dan Chaon
Cleopatra Brimstone - Elizabeth Hand
The Man on the Ceiling - Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem
The Great God Pan - M. John Harrison
The Voice of the Beach - Ramsey Campbell
Body - Brian Evenson
Louise's Ghost - Kelly Link
The Sadness of Detail - Jonathan Caroll
Leda - M. Rickert
In Praise of Folly - Thomas Tessier
Plot Twist - David J. Schow
The Two Sams - Glen Hirshberg
Notes on the Writing of Horror: A Story - Thomas Ligotti
Unearthed - Benjamin Percy
Gardner of Heart - Bradford Morrow
Little Red's Tango - Peter Straub
The Ballad of the Flixible Bullet - Stephen King
20th Century Ghost - Joe Hill
The Green Glass Sea - Ellen Klages
The Kiss - Tia V. Travis
Black Dust - Graham Joyce
October in the Chair - Neil Gaiman
Missolonghi 1824 - John Crowley
Insect Dreams - Rosilind Palermo Stevenson
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