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The Inner City

The Inner CityThe Inner City by Karen Heuler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Heuler’s collection gathers fifteen prime examples of her hallmark surrealist stories. Each one takes a recognizable character in a recognizable setting but follows the situation through to an absurd, dreamlike extreme. There’s a lot of sly humor to be found in these stories — a woman buys a fish at the supermarket only to discover it’s still alive and can grant her three wishes; an officer worker notices she’s gone bald and that a colleague who’s after her job has come to work wearing her hair; a vegetarian succeeds in bringing supermarket meat back to life, Frankenstein-style — but there’s a darker side to them, too, one that often borders on the horrific. My favorite of the bunch, “Thick Water,” is a remarkably sinister tale of suspicion and paranoia among human explorers on an alien world, in which all of the explorers but one are transforming. It’s an extraordinary piece of work, but then so are all the stories collected here. THE INNER CITY is a dark and delightful treat for anyone who likes their fiction engagingly weird and deeply human.

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Reading at the Night Time Logic Reading Series This Sunday

It’s short notice, but I’m reading this Sunday with Karen Heuler! Here’s the official release:

Night Time Logic brings a Mid Summer Night’s Darkness to KGB Bar

Karen Heuler and Nicholas Kaufmann join Night Time Logic for a Sunday night reading.

Sunday, August 21 at 7 PM
85 E 4th St (between 2nd Avenue and Bowery) in New York City

About the Readers

Karen Heuler’s stories have appeared in over 90 literary and speculative magazines and anthologies, from Alaska Quarterly Review to Clarkesworld to Weird Tales, as well as a number of Best Of anthologies. She has published four novels and two story collections with university and small presses, and her last collection was chosen for Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2013 list. She has received an O. Henry award, been a finalist for the Iowa short fiction award, the Bellwether award and the Shirley Jackson award for short fiction. In October, Aqueduct Press will be publishing her next collection, Other Places, which follows women facing strange circumstances on this world and others.

Nicholas Kaufmann is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated, Thriller Award-nominated, and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author of General Slocum’s Gold, Chasing the Dragon, Dying is My Business, and Die and Stay Dead. In addition to his own original work, he has also written for such properties as Zombies Vs. Robots and The Rocketeer. His new novel, In the Shadow of the Axe, is due out soon. He and his wife live in Brooklyn, NY.

About Night Time Logic

Night Time Logic is an occasional reading series showcasing exceptional fiction of all kinds hosted by Daniel Braum, author of The Night Marchers and Other Strange Tales. Past guests have included Angela Slatter, Matthew Kressel, and Victor LaValle. More about the series can be found here.

And here’s the Facebook event page, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Man with No Name

Man with No NameMan with No Name by Laird Barron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This slim volume contains two exemplary tales by the inimitable Laird Barron. The first, the novella “Man with No Name,” is an excellent reminder that nobody captures the mystery and disorientation of being caught up in unknowable supernatural forces like Barron does. Hints of a much larger and more terrifying backstory pepper this tale of a Yakuza enforcer, a popular professional wrestler, and a terrifying excursion into the liminal realm between the worlds of the natural and the supernatural. It’s an amazing piece of work, filled with darkness and disquiet.

The second story, “Blood & Stardust,” is somewhat lighter in tone, an astute and often amusing take on mad scientists and their creations. Barron shows a deep sense of compassion for his narrator, despite her many crimes, and infuses the story with his trademark hints of a wider and scarier world than we’re aware of.

Both stories provide ample evidence of why Barron is widely considered one of the finest horror authors working today. This small, two-story collection is a must-own for Barron fans, and not a bad place to start for those looking to experience his ghastly and arcane cosmos for the first time.

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Read “The Rest is Noise” For Free at Nightmare Magazine

Nightmare cover

“The Rest is Noise” is now available to read for free on the Nightmare Magazine website! So is an author spotlight Q&A with yours truly.

The entire issue is available for purchase as an e-book for just $2.99, and of course you can subscribe to Nightmare Magazine for just $23.88 a year. Check out the website for more info.