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206 pages, Hardcover
First published November 1, 2012
Anyway, in forgetting words, my thesis went, we abandon them. But the realities those banished words gave voice to don’t vanish: old, unmanned realities lurk eternally in dark woods, in nursery tales, police reports, and skittish memories. Like Grimm wolves.
All the old, whispered words still exist – fantastic words and phrases like ‘babies in the eyes’, ‘cavalry clover’, ‘doomrings’, ‘mavworm’ ‘Blemmye’. Thousands and thousands of them. And when we hear those words, even in the antiseptic light of the twenty-first century, we feel a slight breeze, a chill presence we can’t quite identify.
‘Watch this.’ He turned and faced the angel-watchers, smiling grimly. Cupping his hands around his mouth, and without even bothering to try to sound like he meant it, he yelled, ‘Holy shit! Those aren’t angels. They’re devils!’
The effect was instantaneous. There isn’t much distance, once you’re forced to think about it, between a smile and a grimace of terror. Just two slightly different sets of facial contortions. On the street behind us, a hundred expressions shifted, and we all entered yet another hell. A man began to scream in a little girl voice while the skeleton woman dropped to her knees, still gazing upward, and began to deepen the wounds on her forearms with ragged fingernails. Within seconds, the rest had followed suit, falling to the ground and grovelling among the glass.