The Dodd, Mead Gallery Of Horror

The Dodd, Mead Gallery Of Horror - Tanith Lee, Michael Bishop, William F. Nolan, Eric Van Lustbader, Dennis Etchison, Gardner R. Dozois, Robert Bloch, Stephen R. Donaldson, Ramsey Campbell, Theodore Sturgeon, T.E.D. Klein, Jack Dann, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Alan Ryan, Charles L. Grant, Joseph Payne Brennan Will leave reviews on each story as I read it, not necessarily in order (and I may choose to not read them all)

**** Something Nasty, by William F. Nolan

Wow. I shouldn't have skipped ahead in this collection, because the first story was incredible. I think this might be my first time reading anything by William F. Nolan, but if his other writings are anything like this you can bet it won't be my last.

A little girl's uncle harrasses her with scary tales, until she turns the tables. Just the right amount a creepiness with a twinkle and a knowing grin, a story you could read to the kids and yet still savor as a horror fan.

** The Crazy Chinaman, by John Coyne

A three-page little ditty that didn't really do much for me. The ending was baffling at best.

***** The Typewriter, by David Morrell

I absolutely loved this story! Everything about it. It would make a great episode of The Twilight Zone, and reminded me a little bit of one of my own stories, Whatever Possessed You.
A starving poseur of a writer buys a strange typewriter that types out bestsellers no matter what keys he hits, it seems to have a mind of its own. I'll let you read the rest for yourself.

Wonderful writing on dispay here, will be looking for more by this author.

*** The Rubber Room, by Robert Bloch

A man is in custody, being kept in the padded cell, going crazy - or is he. Lots of Nazi-related delusions ensue. A nicely written, tightly-spun tale, but doesn't really bring anythong fresh or new to the table.

(Next up: Petey, by T.E.D. Klein.

Haven't read anything by Klein before, looking forward to it. I have his DARK GODS and a novel coming in soon from Amazon. This story is 50+ pages, so going to save it for another night.)

**** Petey, by T.E.D. Klein

Okay, the amount of praise that has been heaped on this author over the years by everyone is staggering, and puts this Mr. Klein in the position of being a sacred cow. Maybe that's why he quit writing - stop while you're ahead. This was my first time reading anything by this hyped scribe, and so my expectations were through the roof. How could anything live up to that?

I must in all fairness warn you, I have an ingrained response that causes me to hate anything I've been told I MUST love.

So on to the review.

This was a black-and-white story. Not in the sense of morality, but in the sense that I could only picture it in black-and-white in my mind's eye. It had a sense of age to it, like an episode of I Love Lucy mixed with Alfred Hitchcock presents. Older than The Twilight Zone, none of the cool jazz nodding, snapping fingers and knowing winks that series often had.

It took me three nights to finish this very long short story - or is it a novella? I feel asleep while reading it the first two nights.

It was not a great story, plotwise - people getting together at a party and much time spent listening into the uncomfortable idle chatter of old friends trying to make an awkward evening fun. Little glimpses of another story at an insane asylum flashed here and there throughout the tale, told in italics, provide hope that something darker liay beneath. Jars containing fetuses and who-knows-what else in the frigid attic adds the creep factor that things are not quite as they seem.

I do give credit that this story was told in a very original way, and the sense of dread and unease creeps insidiously from along the edges as you read, the comfort found in human company seems hollow and in the isolated countryside of the farmhouse where this tale plays out, the vulnerability to the unknown is acutely felt.

But for me, while this story was very differently told and effective in giving chills that ran down your spine in an authentic way, the big climax was underwhelming and unworthy of the enormous amount of buildup that preceded it. I was not impacted by the ending in any other way than feeling like, "Hmmm. That's it? Really?"

I'm going to go out on a very thick limb and say that this story is quite possibly more brilliant than I have the capacity to appreciate. Maybe one of you smarter people can educate me on why exactly this good story is praised for being the pinnacle of short horror fiction that it is, because I clearly am not smart enough to understand.

I feel confident that the majority of casual horror readers would not have the endurance to make it more than twenty pages into this tale before giving up and finding something else more immediately entertaining.

I've got the full DARK GODS collection and the novel THE CEREMONIES coming in the mail any day now, so I am reserving my final judgement of the venerable Mr. Klein's writing until I have read more, which I will. Until then, I remain somewhat puzzled by the idol worship he receives. Maybe the excessive praise and homage was a requirement back in the day to get published in The Twilight Zone Magazine, and passed down to subsequent generations of horror writers? I may never know.

Commence hate mail to me now. I stand beside your sacred cow, knife drawn - but blood has not yet been shed.