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The Lost District
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
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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 ...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.
The Lost District and Other Stories by Joel Lane (2006): containing the following stories: The Lost District (2001); The Pain Barrier (1994); The Bootleg Heart (2000); Scratch (1996); Coming of Age (2003); Mine (2006); Prison Ships (1998); Like Shattered Stone (1994); Among the Dead (2005); The Window (2001); The Quiet Hours (2006); Exposure (2001); The Outside World (1995); The Country of Glass (1998); The Night That Wins (2005); Against My Ruins (2004); The Only Game (2006); Contract Bridge ...more
I read the first story and didn't like it. It hasn't stood the test of time and the story didn't seem to have much point to it. I couldn't gather enough motivation to read any more of the stories with the first one being so awful and so the book was cast in to the heap of the unread accompanied by the words 'away to the charity shop with you!'
A fine edition, though the gold stamping and sun-motif text dividers are at odds with the subject matter of most of these stories - the barbed-wire header decorations are more apt. Set mostly in and around Birmingham these short stories reflect urban blight and a seemingly equivalent moral decay (for want of a better term). Nearly all are set in a recognisably contemporary time - one or two in a dystopian future; one, with a superficially different - almost upbeat - tone is set in Devon. The ...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 ...more
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
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 ...more
A really well written series of short stories. The stories range from horror to dark urban fantasy to dark fiction. Lane was a very evocative writer who really brings our the bleak desperation of life in the urban Midlands of England. Recommended
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