Uneven but occasionally brilliant collection from 1977, several years before the 'horror boom' took hold of the publishing world. Michael Bishop's 'MoUneven but occasionally brilliant collection from 1977, several years before the 'horror boom' took hold of the publishing world. Michael Bishop's 'Mory' is a standout, a disconcerting farce about bad luck personified, and the unusual embodiment of 'evil' comes across equally haunting and surreal. Also, I'm a sucker for stories taking place in an amusement park, so 'Mory' hit the right nerve. 'Where Spirits Gat Them Home' is John Crowley at his usually subversive, enchanted best. This one is a ghost story that transcends the haunted house - it's a neverending road-map journey back and forth from the current day to the past, all ominous as a dark storm approaches. Melancholy and metaphysical, Crowley's tale is a unique take on how heaven betrays those who hunger it. 'Splinters' by R.A. Flaherty is a wild ghost story. Here each person has fragments of themselves, ghostly apparitions that are conscious and aware, and at times, uncontrollable. Of course, Flaherty, the mad genius that he is, toys with this theme like a crazy backwoods mad scientist. What is more interesting is how he plays with the soundtrack of a ghost - an aural moment in time the mortal world will have to endure. Far out shit. 'Naples' by Avram Davidson is another gem - yes, laundry has rarely been so foreboding and so quietly dangerous. 'The Little Voice' is another Ramsey Campbell knockout - especially the image of a blind man standing at a window with no curtains - why is he smiling? what does he see? what does he hear? Brilliant stuff. And all is topped off with Stephen King's 'Nona', his succubus road tale told in the fashion of James Cain ('The Postman Always Rings Twice). With a few skips, SHADOWS is necessary reading for the horror fan. There's not a true stinker in the bunch....more
An intimate yet soaring novel about the last years of notorious booze-runner, Legs Diamond. William Kennedy's first entry into the Albany Cycle, thisAn intimate yet soaring novel about the last years of notorious booze-runner, Legs Diamond. William Kennedy's first entry into the Albany Cycle, this novel is narrated by the playful and sharp-tongued attorney, Marcus Gorman, and the in typical Kennedy fashion, the story bounces around from past to present, sometimes within the same sentence. What may infuriate some traditional readers made me re-read passages with awe and wonder. There is such a beauty to Kennedy's rhythm to this tale of a likeable thug who charmed his way to the top before falling off the throne, wallowing in poor health and even poorer bank accounts. This is a story of staying important in the scene, taking whatever you can get from the public eye, and it's also a playful drama about a love triangle: Legs, his wife Alice, and the bountiful mistress, Marion 'Kiki'. 'Legs' is ribald, sentimental and rough around the edges when it needs to be, a fine novel about New York and America, celebrity gangsters and the Irish-American way. ...more
The real reason to buy this collection is 'Needing Ghosts', a surreal novella-length farce containing many of the Ramsey Campbell devices: amnesia, urThe real reason to buy this collection is 'Needing Ghosts', a surreal novella-length farce containing many of the Ramsey Campbell devices: amnesia, urban dread, a writer's paranoia, and a landscape complete with moving mannequins, haunted tenements, and pale and puffy things indecipherable to the human eye. Also, it contains some of Campbell's most humorous writing (the mall library scene is deliciously sadistic slapstick). This is the extreme nightmare version of the film, 'After Hours', an endless night where one bad thing leads to another. You'll never look at dentures the same way again.
'Passing Phase' is a great revision of 'The Midwich Cuckoos'. A teacher notices that his students are fixated on a new toy, a small glittering globe, in which he soon finds out may not be of this earth. 'The Next Sideshow' is a claustrophobic take on the desolate carnival. A man is coerced into a maze of mirrors only to find that his reflections show an inner glimpse to what he really is inside. The rest of the tales seemed culled from leftovers that didn't make the cut for Campbell's prior collections. Many have an EC comic feel, the tidy nasty ending, the just desserts and such.
If you're new to Ramsey Campbell, I think his 'Alone with Horrors' is the place to start. ...more