The Lost District
by Joel Lane
A collection of fantastic and horrific stories that deal thematically address the core relationships of ones life, be they parental, first loves, best friends, or lovers (of both the hetero and homosexual variety). The decaying industrial backdrop of England's midlands provides a working class context that is both uniquely English, but universally accessible.
Paperback, 190 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Night Shade Books
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It's very difficult to pigeonhole this book into one genre, I guess the best description is dark fiction. There are whiffs of horror, fantasy, a small bit of gore and some sex, both gay and straight. If you think about it, that's pretty much what life is, a little of this and that mixed together into one experience. I will say that these stories are bleak, dark and at times, depressing. Many, though not all, take place in a setting of urban decay. This is one of the few collections I have read t...more
Joel is a friend of mine and a great writer - I meant to give him 5 stars, but saw just that it was only 4. What am I thinking of, should be 6! His stories are atmospheric, sometimes weird, but always with a realism: the factories, streets, bars, trains and buses of the West Midlands as a backdrop. His stories can be political, poetic, gay, straight, dryly humourous, shocking and unnerving, often all at the same time.
In these stories Joel Lane gives us some wonderfully pitch-perfect dark urban fantasy/horror. While his prose isn't as poetic as M. John Harrison's and his characterization lacks the psychological plumb-bob of J. G. Ballard, Lane excels in settings, all of which are dark and dangerous and unreal, and the subtle, often grotesque plot twists.
If you are a fan of urban horror stories, this book is definitely for you. Although you shouldn't take "horror" too literally. The writing of Joel Lane is not as straight-forward gory as, say, Clive Barker's, and the supernatural element is mostly absent or subtly hinted. What takes central stage in these stories is love, loss, despair and social interactions between people better left unexplained -all played out under a gloomy, industrial Birmingham setting. Of course, it's still fiction, so be...more
Beautifully bleak. That is an excellent way of describing Lane's collection of short stories. They are beautiful to read, extremely poetic in the way that images are quickly and lovingly portrayed. I was continually amazed at how well portrayed the stories were. But at the same time the subject matter is brutal, harsh, emotionally honest and blunt. These are not stories to lightly parse over and continue reading back to back to back. About halfway through the collection, I had to stop and read a...more
This is an excellent collection of stories that skate the boundaries between horror and mainstream fiction amid disused buildings, decrepit housing estates, and characters weighed down by the emotional baggage of the past, present and future. Individually, the stories are grim - there are few upbeat endings here - and reading the collection as a whole in one go isn't advised (indeed, the repetition of some of the themes might dull the senses, even whilst each story is excellent in its own right)...more