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Grim Tales (Novel(La)) Paperback – January 31, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Novel(La)
  • Paperback: 88 pages
  • Publisher: Mud Luscious Press (January 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983026300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983026303
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,543,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Norman Lock is a writer of terrifying ambition. In Grim Tales, his slim collection of fairy tales, he tells what appear to be campfire stories of mysterious disappearances, haunted mirrors, and grotesque transformations -- stories that will make you shiver in the night or check your back in a dark woods. Yet, along the way, Lock s apparent aim is to remind his readers of the most thorny of metaphysical truths such as the fact of karma, or the pathetic limits of the human perspective, or, most grimly, the inexorably cruel irony that pervades our lives. To achieve these lofty illuminations, Lock allows himself, on average, about a hundred words per story. Miraculously, he and his cryptic miniatures get the job done. Reading Lock s tales -- there are about 150 of them collected here -- I was reminded of Einstein's famous phrase describing how electrons separated by a vast distance communicated with each other. Einstein called this apparently faster than the speed-of-light instant messaging spooky action at a distance. (For the record, Einstein did not think such communication was possible.) In its essence, Lock s novella is a meditation on this difficult-to-explain phenomenon. How does one seemingly unrelated event cause another? How does the mind affect matter? How do our dreams seep into our waking lives? Indeed, Lock s stories persistently reveal this curious and complex interconnectedness of the entirety of existence. These miniatures are full of brutality: beatings, murders, suicides, drownings, stranglings, and death galore. Yet, like a good theologian, Lock endeavors to explain the world s violence, and an undercurrent of a kind of cosmic law offers a subtle consolation. Lock s playful exploration of the theory of reincarnation, for example, suggests a world of absolute, if imperceptible, justice. Using the poet s principal of pithiness and the dramatist s sense of irony, Lock distills the world down into a set of universal axioms in his narratives: all violence is domestic violence; everyday objects, too, like wives and husbands, seek their revenge; all matter is subject to metamorphosis; and normal human perception is woefully circumscribed. Most miraculous is how Lock s text commands its authority. The astute use of atmospheric detail -- e.g. subway posters advertising the season s new plays -- lends Lock s bizarro world a concrete and relatable reality. More subversively, Lock, posing as a kind of cultural anthropologist, often provides alternate endings to the tales, as if these legends were already woven into our collective, canonical mythology. Lock s most cunning trick is his wielding of quotation marks throughout the text. Notice how the quotation marks in the following story reference a source of authority, perhaps an eyewitness or a Book of Record. Above all, Grim Tales is a collection of mysteries. While I have shared some of my interpretations here, the mystery will work on you in its own way. For those of you reading this now who remain unconvinced of Lock s surreal, mind-bending, and cruelly calculating vision, keep in mind that the worst of fates is reserved for the unbelievers. In other words, you might at least keep an open mind. Because, according to Norman Lock, our finest modern fabulist, the hedgehog, dead by the side of the road, was once a man who refused to believe in fairy tales. --Paul Charles Griffin, Bookslut

I knew after I d read Matt Bell s effusive and extraordinary introduction to Norman Lock s Grim Tales that I was in for a treat, and indeed, the book I read was like nothing else I d ever read before, as the characters in these very short stories or fables or maybe anecdotes deal with almost nothing but the dangers of being alive the danger not only from mundane, everyday objects suddenly in revolt, but most of all the dangers of loving, of being a wife or a husband or a l --Spenc --Spencer Dew, decomP

I knew after I d read Matt Bell s effusive and extraordinary introduction to Norman Lock s Grim Tales that I was in for a treat, and indeed, the book I read was like nothing else I d ever read before, as the characters in these very short stories or fables or maybe anecdotes deal with almost nothing but the dangers of being alive the danger not only from mundane, everyday objects suddenly in revolt, but most of all the dangers of loving, of being a wife or a husband or a lover and living on the knife s edge of being the most important person, for better or for worse, in someone else s life and what that might mean for your own; the book was such a quick read yet for days afterward I couldn t stop shivering, and also marveling at the craft, the tight structure, the perfect sentences, and most of all the small moments of grace, of quiet beauty that Lock allows us amidst the carnage and the wreckage. --Amber Sparks, Vouched Books

The Akedah was likely in Norman Lock s mind a few times as he composed this startling, seductive, book a book of endings, of tiny narratives of catastrophe, suicide, murder, metamorphosis, nightmare, and writing. There is a whiff of Kafka, also, maybe even a taste of that unparalleled reader of Kafka, Maurice Blanchot. Most centrally there is an attempt to reenter and reinvent the work of the Grimm brothers, to show us something about the logic of fairy tales and why they haunt us so. Here is a mirror that steals a man s reflection. Here is a field of knives, a thick fog full of ladders. Here is a hedgehog, dead by the side of the road, [that] was once a man who refused to believe in fairy tales. And here, too, are pieces of writing that predict death, that stand as literal sentences of death; pieces of writing into which the writers and/or readers literally disappear. This is how the book progresses, an accumulation of endings. For the most part, the characters are anonymous persons, though there is a sense, in this accumulation, of echo, that the he who finds his that his papers had been worked on during the night might also be the he who was writing a book of tales, and who In the middle of his book ... left a note in which he confessed to all things no matter how wicked or shameless that were set down in the book, like fiction, even the he, who, when he had shut himself up in his room to write, is overheard by others to be weeping. Meanwhile, children turn into furniture or are strangled by furniture, smothered by coats, mauled by kitchen appliances. Horrors are followed by alternative horrors. We are given another version of the story followed by yet another. There is a relentlessness to the variety here; consider these pieces, isolated by white space, rendered autonomous and whole: This is a book that strikes at the reader s sense of scale; we are dwarfed, in these pages, by apocalypse. As the Akedah stands as a reminder of the utter incomprehensibility of the divine a warning against the easy idolatry of assuming we can even speak about that which is God so Lock s book exemplifies the very possibilities of tale-telling. We are offered story after story, and we are shown, again and again, how stories work and why they matter. The end of the world already exists in the mere idea of the end of the world. And this is enough to drive us mad. Lock puts it perfectly, hauntingly. --Spencer Dew, decomP

About the Author

Norman Lock is the author of numerous works of fiction, as well as stage and radio plays, including The House of Correction (Broadway Play Publishing Co.), A History of the Imagination (FC2), Land of the Snowmen (Calamari Press, Kawade Shobo Shinsha, Publishers-Japan), The Long Rowing Unto Morning (Ravenna Press), The King of Sweden (Ravenna Press) and, most recently, Shadowplay (Ellipsis Press). He is a recipient of the Aga Kahn Prize given by The Paris Review, prose fellowships awarded by both the New Jersey and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and, in 2011, a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Aberdeen, New Jersey, with his wife, Helen.

More About the Author

"Our finest modern fabulist." --Bookslut

Norman Lock has written novels and short fiction as well as stage, radio and screen plays. He received the Aga Kahn Prize, given by The Paris Review, and the Literary Fiction Prize, given by The Dactyl Foundation of the Arts & Humanities, fellowships from the New Jersey Council on the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to Love Among the Particles, he is the author of the novels Shadowplay, The King of Sweden, and The Long Rowing Unto Morning, the short-fiction collections A History of the Imagination, Grim Tales, Pieces for Small Orchestra & Other Fictions, Trio, and Émigrés / Joseph Cornell's Operas, the novellas Land of the Snow Men and Escher's Journal, and the book-length poems In the Time of Rat and Cirque du Calder. His acclaimed Absurdist drama The House of Correction has been produced widely in the U.S., Germany, and at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival and, currently, in Istanbul. Radio plays broadcast by WDR, Germany, include Women in Hiding, The Shining Man, The Primate House, Let's Make Money, and Mounting Panic. Selected radio plays are published as Two Plays for Radio; stage plays, as Three Plays by Norman Lock. More at www.normanlock.com.

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