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In the Valley of the Kings: Stories Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 14, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this haunting collection, Holt's lush language pulls literary treasures out of dark places, bringing readers ice from the rings of Saturn where seeing and vanishing are one, a cartouche from deep within an ancient tomb and the late-night conversations of a married couple awaiting the end of the world. Magical realism tinges the grim My Father's Heart, about a man who keeps his father's heart in a jar on his mantelpiece, and Scylla, in which a captain returns from sea to find his home altered by an inexplicable force. An ominous future is the backdrop of Eurydike, in which an amnesiac wakes up in a place full of empty beds and incomprehensible clocks. Aurora follows the heartbreaking thoughts of a spaceship doomed to harvest ice. A tantalizing puzzle takes root in one story (its title is Greek) as a lonely survivor investigates the cause of a disease that marks its victims with a single word repeated over and over beneath the skin. This collection, with its allusions to mythology and tragic conundrums, demands intelligence and rewards the reader with Borgesian riches. (Sept.)
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“American short fiction in particular―from Poe and Hawthorne to the present―unfurls at midnight: a dark affair emphasizing our want of health in a civilization gone sick. Terrence Holt’s first story collection, In the Valley of the Kings, now joins the brigade....These stories will endue for as long as our hurt kind remains to require the truth.”
- William Giraldi, The New York Times Book Review
“Starred Review. In his debut collection, practicing physician Holt takes on the big cosmological questions in stunning fashion, recalling writers like Conrad, Hawthorne, and Melville in the scope of his interests and the grandeur of his style....This collection represents a life's work of stories that are not well known outside of the readership of literary journals. That's about to change, and it's a good thing.”
- Library Journal
“Starred Review. In this haunting collection, Holt's lush language pulls literary treasures out of dark places, bringing readers ice from the rings of Saturn 'where seeing and vanishing are one,' a cartouche from deep within an ancient tomb and the late-night conversations of a married couple awaiting the end of the world....This collection, with its allusions to mythology and tragic conundrums, demands intelligence and rewards the reader with Borgesian riches.”
- Publishers Weekly
“Holt is my favorite writer. Primarily because he's awesome but also (and no less important) because he is sui generis.”
- Junot Diaz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Bookforum
“Rare wonderful stories, beautifully crafted and strangely surreal without being merely cerebral―a very fine first book.”
- Peter Matthiesen, winner of the National Book Award for Shadow Country
“Terrence Holt's prose is deeply original, evocative, transforming. I have never seen anything quite like it before. Though what I'm praising is not words, nor is it narrative, but something that is a compound of language, story, feeling, and knowledge―and something else. Something beyond his learning as a physician, at once meta-physical and physical, mysterious and terrifying, but not indulgent. Even undecipherable. He is amazing.”
- Gerald Stern, winner of the National Book Award for This Time
“Like the tales of Poe and Hawthorne, these stories are claustral, eerie and entirely exhilarating.”
- Michael Gorra, author of The Bells in Their Silence
“In the Valley of the Kings is a work of terrific intelligence and terrifying imagination.”
- Aleksandar Hemon, finalist for the National Book Award for The Lazarus Project
Top customer reviews
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The gem of this anthology is In the Valley of the Kings. It is a great story of a modern-day Egyptologist that falls victim to his own theories and passions. Well paced and well told - this was by far my favorite of the lot.
The last 2 stories, Scylla and Apocalypse, are again heavy on the allegory. They remind us that the world often ends not with a bang, but with a whimper.
Overall - Holt is a master stylist and storyteller. If you are not into books that are heavy into allegory and metaphor; stay away. But if you want a dose of dark philosophy, wrapped in creepy ambient short stories - look no further!