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Little Visible Delight Paperback – December 3, 2013
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Like most anthologies, the stories are varied in tone, pacing, and style. A couple of them stand out for their literary echos: A Thousand Stitches by Kate Jonez and The Point by Johnny Worthen. I particularly enjoyed these two for the thought-provoking themes that stayed with me long after I’d read them.
The one that still keeps me up all night is JP by Brent Michael Kelly. You’ll never look at people who carry little dogs everywhere the same way again.
The most difficult for me to relate to was An Unattributed Lyric, In Blood, On a Bathroom Wall by Ennis Drake. The story form is on the experimental side, and it explores the futility of trying to capture the human experience in literature. Perhaps it hits a little too close to home.
A special bonus and one of my favorite things about this analogy are the authors’ notes at end of each story that explain their inspiration and how particular themes continually reoccur—obsess them, really—as writers.
Perfect for late night reading, Little Visible Delight is sure to take the reader on paths seldom traveled. Flashlight under the covers recommended.
Little Visible Delight is published by Omnium Gatherum Media and is available in paperback and eBook.
Little Visible Delight is my kind of anthology; the horror is quiet, thoughtful and unsettling. The anthology opens with a quotation from Wuthering Heights, from which the anthology draws its title. The literary classic makes for an apt inspiration. Contributions have been selected with an eye for quality over quantity, thus achieving that near-mythical aim of anthology editors; every story squarely hits the mark.
Each author has gone for a distinctly different take on the central theme of obsession, with hardly a well-worn trope in sight. And where the author has used a common trope, as in Cory J. Hendon’s “Needs Must when the Devil Drives” and “Bears: A Fairy Tale of 1958” by Steve Duffy, their interpretations are innovative and refreshing. Along with the theme of obsession, many of the stories share a common thread of social distance and isolation; of protagonists cast, by choice or circumstance, alone and adrift in a hostile world.
Each story ends with a brief afterword from the author which gives the reader extra insight into the story’s conception. Some readers find this intrusive; I found it interesting, and for me it enhanced my experience of their stories.
I don’t often write an anthology review which discusses every story individually, but when I do…it’s for one like this.
“Before we get to where you want to go, you have to tell me your story.”
“The Receiver of Tales” by Lynda E. Rucker.
Writers, a theme of obsession – you just know there has to be a story about stories, don’t you? In “The Receiver of Tales”, Aisha’s dubious “gift” is a double-edged sword. Most writers will be able to identify with the protagonist’s agony.
“The man I meant to kill wouldn’t be home for another thirteen and a half minutes.”
“Needs Must When the Devil Drives” by Cory J. Herndon.
I’m not going to tell you which speculative fiction trope Herndon has used here, because that would be a spoiler. This story is blackly funny in places, the darkness intensifying the deeper you get into it.
“Remember it takes a thousand stitches to make one dollar. Don’t waste any more stitches.”
A Thousand Stitches by Kate Jonez
Jonez’ perfection of Laura Beatty’s voice meant that these people felt real to me. And I cared about them.
“He was living in the last minutes of the planet and he knew it.”
The Point by Johnny Worthen
Ah, the tragic irony of a life lived waiting to die… This is the kind of story where the reader is kept constantly and deliberately unbalanced, never knowing what is fantasy and what is real
“You are still different and alone.”
“Calligraphy” by James Everington
This story has commonalities with “The Receiver of Tales”; besides the themes, it features words spontaneously appearing on human skin, and a protagonist who has removed him/herself somewhat from social interaction. The execution and conclusion, however, are distinctly different, thus preserving the delicate balance between uniqueness and cohesiveness.
“Where would the girl turn without her mom?”
“This Many” by S.P. Miskowski
Another story that resonated strongly with me; I have known women like this, and at times been a woman like this. I started out wanting to slap the protagonist, and ended up wanting to hug her.
“This is how it ought to be, and as far as I’m concerned, we can stay like this forever.”
“JP” by Brent Michael Kelley
Is JP a dog, or is JP a child? The fact that you’re never quite sure is testament to the power of this story.
“A girl as silent as a shadow, named for a harsh sound.”
“Kestrel” by Mary Borsellino
Ultimately, a curiously uplifting story about the value of pain.
“You always knew he’d be the last to go. But you knew he’d go.”
“An Unattributed Lyric, In Blood, On a Bathroom Wall” by Ennis Drake
An unconventionally structured story, which is always fun when done well (and this is done very well), on one of the blackest obsessions of all.
“She thought of her baby and waited for the cracks.”
“Black Eyes Broken” by Mercedes M. Yardley
Sometimes the message is best found between the lines… As the author elaborates in the afterword, this is a story about love and the broken, told with an admirable economy of words
“I’ve been dancing to their tune. All my life, Mama. Now the music’s stopped, and there isn’t a chair left for me to sit in.”
“Bears: A Fairy Tale of 1958” by Steve Duffy
"Goldilocks and the Three Bears” meets an obsession with anthropomorphism meets David Lynch in what is my favourite story in the anthology.
The content overall is fairly dark, and varies from time travel to paranormal to psychological suspense. A common factor, aside from the thread of 'obsession', is that the writing has a kind of poetic beauty to the sentences. I especially love this dichotomy of dark themes written with beautiful words.