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This Beautiful Darkness Paperback – June 23, 2009
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About the Author
Born in Flint Michigan, Chris was raised in nearby Linden where he lived and attended school. He fell in love with writing as a teenager when he started writing short stories and began working on fanzines with friends. In 1999 BACK FROM NOTHING, a short story collection, was published by University Editions. Since that time Chris has finished writing a novel, a children's series and has been published in BARE BONE and CTHULHU SEX MAGAZINE. He has also received Honorable Mention in THE YEAR'S BEST FANTASY AND HORROR twice. Along with writing, Chris is also an artist and photographer and he currently resides in Flint and battles invisible space beasts in his free time. ALSO BY Chris Ringler- BACK FROM NOTHING - a collection of dark stories only available through the author THE MEEP SHEEP - a fairy tale THE KREEP SHEEP - the follow up to The Meep Sheep THIS BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS - a collection of dark stories RED DREAMS - a collection of dark stories NOCHES DE CORAZONES NEGROS - a collection of dark stories and A SHADOW OVER EVER - a novel All books but BACK are available for your Kindle.
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There was also this blunder: In one of the stories the character is lost in thought remembering an abortion she almost had 15 years earlier. In the next paragraph the author says that what brings the character out of her trance-like remembrance is the crying of the baby. Well, if taken as it was written, there shouldn't be a baby... it should be a 14/15 year old child. So is the author telling us that she really did have the abortion and this is just another baby? It just didn't make sense.
However, I still liked this book because what makes the stories dark (and sometimes horrifying) is that many are reflective of real life darkness; issues that are very real in the everyday lives of people. Granted, there are a few stories here that concern supernatural things, but I must reiterate that what makes even those stories truly dark (and sometimes more upsetting) is the real life despair and pain of the characters. This book is depressing at times, but that is because the issues that many of these characters face are real - sometimes internal turmoil, sometimes external. But the external is always representative of that internal conflict. And like it's title, sometimes the darkness is beautiful.
*Like Cracks In Still Water - guy reflecting on his violent relationship; some good dark fiction, but nothing frightening
*The Bed - bed causes nightmares which threatens the life of the owner; kind of a possession story
*Tree - FANTASTIC story about a desperate father with a supernatural theme; one of my favorites in the collection
*Forgive - an odd one about a girl getting in trouble in school; the psychological aspect wasn't as strong in this one
*Happen - about a man's odd birth & the effect it has on his life; very dark imagery
*Virgin - much like the style of HP Lovecraft; definitely the best story of them all!!
*With The Sunrise - not sure why this one was in the collection; nothing "dark" about it
*The Box - what you should NOT teach your children
*Widow - great sequel to The Box
*These Hands of Time - opened my eyes to a common subtle link running through the stories
*The Place Things Go To Die - far more frightening than Children of the Corn
*I See You - I'm never using a rest area bathroom again...ever...
*Where My Heart Dwells - girl forced to have an abortion is haunted by the unborn child
*Red Rain - farming in Hell, apparently
*Red Reap - sequel to Red Rain, but takes place several decades later
I thought this was a well-written collection of flash fiction, although I did not always think the stories were especially dark. I think I preferred the stories in Noches De Corazones Negros, but I hope Chris Ringler continues with this genre. He has an obvious passion for classic horror, foregoing gore and splatter for more traditional suspense and terror.
Ringler is rather original, imaginative, and, of all of the fiction writers of the last three or four decades, he has the most technical skill as a writer in my opinion- very flluid and impressive prose. His plots and characters leap from the page and rub your face in their emotions. What they feel...you need to feel; and Ringler is very skilled at presenting stories that are both cringe worthy, and tales that reflect how we feel about ourselves.
The stories of the woods, of girlfriends, of curses brought on by our own actions, and stories of intense desire to fit in. This Beautiful Darkness brings out the best of characters and location.
You generally don't need fiction to become part of you; most of the time you need to get lost- or be entertained...but This Beautiful Darkness does more than that. TBD let's you visualize a world that you don't need to believe in anything but yourself.
A word of warning: Don't expect these stories to hold anything back. The horror, perversion and gore are at times extreme and often made very personal as the stories are told from the main character's point of view. Some of the stories are pure horror (e.g., The Bed) akin to something Stephen King might imagine while others (e.g., Tree, Red Harvest) have a dark fantasy feel to them. I mention these three because they are among my favorites in this compilation and each could be a great film too, in my opinion. I don't know who the author's influences are, but from an imagination standpoint, I sense some King and Stephen R. Donaldson.
If you like short, imaginative tales of darkness that really draw you in, you will find many to enjoy in "This Beautiful Darkness".