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Entropy in Bloom: Stories Hardcover – April 18, 2017
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"A perfect place to get acquainted with one of the darkest stars in the genre...Johnson captures humanity's absurdity, our grotesqueries, sometimes our triumphs, all the while pushing past the limits of reality, transforming it into something dark, and surreal, and unforgettable."
―B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
"ENTROPY IN BLOOM is an instant classic, a carefully curated manifesto whose main goal is to tell the world one of the brightest stars in indie lit is now too brilliant to remain hidden...This collection should turn him into the writer everyone is talking about. These fifteen stories and one novella show a powerful imagination, a great talent for storytelling, writing chops that allow him to tackle any genre, and a flowing, dynamic voice that, if Johnson were a singer, would extend to an impressive eight octaves."
"Surreal, visceral, and frequently unsettling...One more descriptor, while we're at it: highly entertaining. Johnson brings a pulpy urgency to the page, which blends neatly with the frequently heady concepts that he utilizes in his fiction. [ENTROPY IN BLOOM]'s a fine primer to his work, which encompasses everything from stories of pernicious terrors working their way into the world to taut crime fiction to insightful character studies."
"Exciting, unpredictable, and feels slightly dangerous...free of the boundaries of conventional literature in ways you can't quite imagine. ENTROPY IN BLOOM is emotionally challenging, unpredictable and thoroughly original. I cannot say it enough: I had a great time with this book."
―Dead End Follies
"Showcases the best of the worst of Jeremy Robert Johnson. And by worst, I mean most gut-churning and nightmare inducing...Perfectly paced and extremely creepy...will leave you pondering the deeper meaning of random acts of violence for days to come. Enjoy?"
"With ENTROPY IN BLOOM, Jeremy Robert Johnson continues to deliver the very best in short fiction...original ideas, compellingly realistic characters, wonderfully vivid language."
―This is Horror
“The beauty in all that horror is the point here, and not a side effect. As a result, this is a many-tentacled beast of its own family, genre, and species. You should be reading ENTROPY IN BLOOM. You have great things to look forward to.”
—The Coachella Review
“Johnson can be compared to John Shirley, Chuck Palahniuk, or even Harlan Ellison. ENTROPY IN BLOOM shows Johnson is capable of blurring genre boundaries with regard only for mining and expressing their mythic power. A sense of futility and constant surveillance colors every scene, and Johnson’s ability to sustain this level of tension is astonishing.”
—The Horror Review
“Has a varied yet well-curated mixtape feel. Each story that follows the last one is a complete tonal shift with a different genre and sometimes different style but what remains is a singular voice. ‘The Sleep of Judges’ reads like David Lynch’s take on Straw Dogs.”
—Dark Moon Digest
“ENTROPY IN BLOOM is an excellent primer to Johnson’s work…a veritable carnival of horrors awaits you…the kind of entertaining thrill the Romans got from watching colosseum matches—the arterial-spraying excitement of witnessing pure horror.”
"These stories can be uncomfortable, difficult, unflinching, but they're also always entertaining. Johnson writes with an energy that propels you through some very dark spaces indeed and into something profoundly unsettling but nonetheless human."
―Brian Evenson, author of A Collapse of Horses
"ENTROPY IN BLOOM crackles with weirdness, style, wit, a befittingly oddball sense of humanity, and a misshapen dark heart. I loved every damn story."
―Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil's Rock
"Reading Johnson, you feel you are in the grip of an immensely powerful, possibly malevolent, but fiercely intelligent mind. Beware! (But enjoy--and trust me, you will.)"
―Nick Cutter, author of The Troop
"I've seen the future and it's bizarre, it's beautifully berserk, it's Jeremy Robert Johnson."
―Stephen Graham Jones, author of Mongrels
"A dazzling writer."
―Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club
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I knew this release was going to be a reintroduction of Johnson's short work, and though it had been a few years since I had read his short stories, I decided to go into Entropy without referencing back to what I had previously read by Johnson. Immediately I was hit with the nostalgia of times when I read We Live Inside You and Angel Dust Apocalypse including the music, geopolitical turmoil, and straight up mind bending abilities. The bulk of the stories from Entropy are from the two books I mentioned previously and I understand why Night Shade chose the ones they did for this edition. They went for the versatility angle showing off the wide range of skill Johnson has at writing many different styles. As mentioned in the introduction by the great Brian Evenson "Johnson can shift gears and genres between and within stories, keeping you always a little off balance, going from dark to comic, from Twilight-Zone horror to contemporary noir to something almost Lovecraftian and back again", what more can you say?
Being as I was rereading most of these stories, I took my time trying to notice the nuance in style and pick up on themes etc... One thing I noticed reading is that as much as things change they always stay the same. Even though they weren't written that long ago, stories like The Sharp Dressed Man at the End of the World and A Flood of Harriers both have a lot to say about society and are as relevant today as they were when they were written, and I imagine will remain relevant. I also think there is something to be said about the fragility of the male ego threaded through many of the stories in this collection not to mention a steady dose of paranoia.
The coolest thing about a JRJ story is you truly have no way of knowing what is going to happen and which bizarre or violent turn the tale may take. I would be lying if I didn't feel a tad bit envious of those experiencing these stories for the first time. With that being said, The Sleep Of Judges is an exclusive piece to this release and it is noteworthy in itself. It starts off a crime/noir story about the burglary of a young family's home and devolves into a weird fiction story of paranoia and extra-dimensional evil. It is a great ending to this arrangement of stories. If you are not like me and have never read JRJ's work before then don't take my word for it just look at the insane blurbage on this book: Stephen Graham Jones, Laird Barron, Nick Cutter, John Skipp, Paul Tremblay, Chuck Palanuik and the intro by Evenson? I mean holy christ, I would've picked it up on that alone. There is a reason why so may titans of horror lit are co-signing this collection. I think that is because as JRJ's catalog expands and we see more and more of what he can do, he will fall into the categories of great writers like Tom Piccirrilli and Joe Lansdale that can stretch across literary genres yet still remain distinctly themselves. If you're a fan of horror or weird literature then go ahead and pick up Entropy In Bloom then when you can think clearly again go get his novel Skullcrack City.
“League of Zeroes,” for all its grotesque satire is probably one of the most poignant takes on dating, the role of the individual in society and the quest for bodily perfection as it pertains to the former two. “Persistence Hunting” is a tour de force of person storytelling, wherein you’re informed of the ending trainwreck in the opening passage, but, much like the main character, can do nothing but propel yourself faster and faster down the tracks to that carnal conclusion. The auto-vivisection of “Dissociate Skills,” rendered even more effective and breaking out from simple gore or genre by the tender heart beating at the center of it.
“When Susurrus Stirs” is a gleefully grotesque tale of parasites, body horror, and language: like an early-Cronenberg story as if it was written by Borges or Burroughs. “The Sharp-Dressed Man at the End of the Line,” is thoroughly horrifying for the sheer prescience and possibility. Written well before the Trump administration, with a president inciting nuclear war by taunting “China-bear,” “Russia-bear,” and “Korea-bear,” the most outrageous aspect isn’t the cockroach fallout-suit, but the gut-wrenching knowledge that the story isn’t that much of a stretch, lending all the more credence to the suit.
The book’s final story, the never-before-published novella “The Sleep of Judges,” is an eerie, propulsive, paranoid descent into the concept of protection, security, family, and sanity. Much like the main character, the reader can’t help but see this thing through to the end, turning pages with the same maddening furor of Roger, needing answers, needing resolution, if only so you can sleep soundly once again.
Overall, this is an impressive collection from one of literary-horror's best writers, and a thoroughly entertaining read through and through. These stories are imbued with as much suspense, terror, and dread as they are with humor, heart, and pathos. Whenever the horror genre is discussed, the names of Lovecraft, King, Koonz, or Barker are never far from the discussion; with "Entropy in Bloom," a greatest hits of JRJ's oeuvre, you can bet Johnson will be added to that list.