Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Blood on the Page: The Complete Short Fiction of Brian Keene, Volume 1

Brian Keene is one of my favorite authors and I was pretty stoked to hear that he was putting out a short story collection I wouldn't have to skip paying my car insurance in order to get. When I heard it would the first of a multiple-volume release, my day became even better. 

But I'm kind of jaded when it comes to horror short stories. I've read all of Stephen King's collections up to this point, I've read Jack Ketchum's Peaceable Kingdoms, I've read Bryan Smith's Highways to Hell, I've read Jeff Strand's Gleefully Macabre, and I've read Dean Koontz's Strange Highways. I don't particularly feel the need to seek out more short story collections. I have couple more and I'll get to them eventually, but I only seek out more collections if something really interests me. So I asked myself what Brian Keene would bring to that table? 

The answer was simple: He brought some pretty good stories and few that were kind of just okay. But that's the thing with making it a "Complete Short Fiction," isn't it? A few clunkers were bound to turn up because not even the best of writers always write at their best.... especially when they are first starting out. But even the "clunkers" are still decent and they are a worthy inclusion if for no other reason than historical purposes. 

I suppose the best thing about this collection is that there are a lot of stories but most of them are in fact quite short. We have about 30 stories and the collection is 268 pages long. So this is a fairly quick read. 

This is the table of contents: 

  • Introduction by Dave Thomas (AKA Meteornotes...Keeper of Ice Bat...Maker of Brownies)
  • Foreword by Brian Keene
  • Portrait Of the Magus As a Writer (Interpolating Magic Realism)
  • Captive Hearts
  • Johnstown
  • Waiting For Darkness
  • Dust
  • Burying Betsy
  • Fast Zombies Suck
  • I Sing a New Psalm
  • Caught In a Mosh
  • I Am an Exit
  • This Is Not an Exit
  • That Which Lingers
  • Halves
  • Without You
  • Couch Potato
  • Fade To Null
  • Babylon Falling
  • A Revolution Of One
  • Full Of It
  • Two-Headed Alien Love Child
  • Bunnies In August
  • The Wind Cries Mary
  • The Resurrection and The Life
  • Stone Tears
  • Red Wood
  • The Ghosts Of Monsters
  • Slouching In Bethlehem
  • Marriage Causes Cancer In Rats
  • Golden Boy

I rather enjoyed Halves, Johnstown, Dust, and Bunnies in August the most. In this collection there are also a few stories that are a part of Brian Keene's Dead Sea and Entombed universe. So that's a pretty cool addition. You won't find any that are a part of The Rising or City of the Dead with the exception of The Resurrection and the Life (a different take on the resurrection of Lazarus) because all of those are collected into The Rising: Selected Scenes from the End of the World. There are also no stories related to Earthworm Gods or Earthworm Gods II: Deluge because those are also in a collection of their own called Earthworm Gods: Selected Scenes from the End of the World

I haven't read those two collections yet, but I can say that this one is pretty good. I prefer Keene's novels, but his shorter work isn't too shabby. The only real issue I have is that this collection has a few rather jarring editorial issues. Nothing that bad compared to Leisure's edition of The Rising or some of the other Deadite books I've read, but that still should have been prevented, IMO. 

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read it yet but I can tell you my favorite titles:

    Fast Zombies Suck
    Two-Headed Alien Love Child
    Slouching In Bethlehem