- Paperback: 258 pages
- Publisher: Fantasist Enterprises (December 27, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781934571040
- ISBN-13: 978-1934571040
- ASIN: 1934571040
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,072,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Voices: Tales of Horror Paperback – December 27, 2011
"Lawrence C. Connolly is a master of the short story. He writes with an economy that hums with the quiet power of a finely-tuned engine. His stories are artfully constructed and memorable for their smart originality."
--Tom Monteleone, Bram-Stoker-Award Winning editor of the Borderlands series
"Lawrence C. Connolly doesn't just get under your skin, he burrows. His style is deceptively unshowy . . . all the better to jolt you."
--Stephen Volk, award-winning screenwriter of The Awakening and Ghostwatch
"With his latest collection, Lawrence C Connolly proves yet again what a fine, intelligent and above all humane writer he is. These are stories about voices, and the clearest voice of all is Connolly's own, and it is a delight to hear it."
--Simon Kurt Unsworth, World-Fantasy-Award-Nominated author of Lost Places and Quiet Houses
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If you haven't picked up the by-now collectible THIS WAY TO EGRESS already, you might find yourself priced out of the market--and out of two dark fiction knockouts. "Moon and the Devil," which deals with a charlatan and the harrowing world of illegal dog-fighting. This tale should have been required reading in Michael Vick's high school English class. I could imagine this one being made into a Tales from the Darkside or Amazing Stories episode, one that would have strengthened either series.
In the interchapter/commentary REVISION, the author reveals that it was his friend, Charly Cantor, who fell in love with Pittsburgh, and inspired DECANTING OBLIVION. This is the other knockout, and what I consider Connolly's short story masterpiece.
(Aside: I felt rather vindicated when underrated short story writer, and Connolly's sometime mentor, Bob Leman seemed to echo that sentiment...) This disturbing story speaks to current labor issues, in a powerful unforgettable way. What's more, I love it when authors forego exotic places in favor of the local. Connolly writes about his own hometown with special authority (to the late Charly Cantor: "Thank You!"). Also check out audible.com for the March/April 2003 issue of The Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine: it features an amazing reading performance of this work (my first exposure to it, in fact).
Those stories I'd read, and picking up this book was a great excuse to read them again. But the new stories more than held their own. Two were special standouts.
As a Sherlock Holmes fan, I loved THE DEATH LANTERN, which ranks among my favorites. The timing seemed to me a bit uncanny, too, as I'd recently been to see "Sherlock Holmes: a Game of Shadows" and "Hugo." Like "Hugo," DEATH LANTERN concerns the advent of film as an art form, but a decidedly dark art form--and combines this with a convincing portrayal of the famous detective.
BENEATH BETWEEN is another gem, and a good one to read if you're a writer around New Year's making your annual Resolutions (or heck, the beginning of a new month, or week, or...). If that story doesn't drive foot traffic to the Between Books, an actual bookstore in Delaware, then I don't know what will. This is another "local color" piece that really shines. Personally, at any rate, I foresee a road trip in my not too distant future. Yes, I'll be looking for the obscure and out-of-print and underrated, but read the story, and you'll know exactly why: then you, too, might really come to believe in fiction...
The interchapters were the other reason I picked up this book, and these reflections did not disappoint. JAMMING WITH SPRINGSTEEN has me revisiting old songs for stories and story ideas. And, as an aspiring writer, I love to get behind the scenes of other writers' processes: not to find my own, per se, but as a kind of personal sanity check--and as a kind of study aid, if that makes sense. For example, it was interesting to me to learn that PAINKEEPER was the initial opening to SHRINES, before Mr. Connolly factored it out into its own story--and then gave SHRINES another go. "Ah," says my writer self, "a homework assignment! I've got to study them side-by-side..."
Many of these commentaries were stories in their own right. ILLEGAL ART related a creepy real-life experience with black marketeers in Russia, which could have taken a decidedly unhappy turn for the author. SPARE THE ROD, RAISE THE CAIN actually provided me with a bit of much-needed perspective on revision, and the value of giving your stories multiple chances.
This is a collection to own and keep, made even more compelling by the memoirs/stories behind the fiction.
"Lesions" is a creepy story about a very bad man with a horrifying condition, tiny mouths with sharp teeth have appeared all over his body. He ends up looking for help and goes to a place where he thinks he can get it. Here's the first line: Todd studied her, gauging the size of her head, breasts, and hands, imagining how they would look arranged in a crystal bowl.
Great opening line and the writing is impeccable. Connolly is a master of stripped down prose that is at the same time deep and emotional, but not cluttered, or overdone.
"Smuggling the Dead" is a fascinating story about an American hired to smuggle something very mysterious out of Russia, a small black cube made up of . . . well, you'll have to read it to find out exactly what it is. The behind the scenes story about this one was also very intriguing and chronicles a trip Connolly made to Russia years ago.
"Decanting Oblivion" is about a bicycle messenger with a drug problem in a bizarre future Earth that has no-sleep factories where the workers go non-stop, as their need for sleep has been taken away. There's a lot more to this story, and it's very visceral and utterly fascinating. One of my favorites.
"Things" is about a gang of evil youngsters who tangle with the wrong old Italian lady. Sure, the young men had their fun breaking and entering old people's houses and beating them up and stealing their stuff, but sometimes, you pick the wrong person to screw with.
"Flames" is one of my favorite stories in the anthology. It's about three college students on their way home for Thanksgiving break, when their car breaks down and they are forced to take shelter in an abandoned house during a snowstorm. This one will leave you shivering, and whatever you do, don't get too close to the flames.
"The Death Lantern" is literally a Sherlock Holmes story, from a themed anthology about our favorite inspector, and it delivers a bullet to the face. Well, a bullet to the face of a famous illusionist of the day. But is the film footage real? Or is it an elaborate hoax? The story is quite interesting and the new technology of moving pictures is discussed with a rather interesting angle that we who have grown up watching movies may not have ever considered.
"Die Angle" is a story inspired by a Bruce Springsteen song (for a themed collection that draws inspiration from Springsteen songs), and is about a man who returns to his hometown after being gone for many years. He's going home because he's been given a contract to kill someone. Chaos ensues and we get to meet some of our anti-hero's old friends. The town is a really messed up place. The Boss would love this one, I think.
"Beneath Between" is a mind-bending story that seemed like it was one of those chapter interludes where Connolly told about his writing life. It felt so real and for a moment I forgot I was reading fiction. I think writers especially will love this story, as it's about a frustrated writer who made the decision not to submit his work for too long, and sees how it could have been when he ends up in the most awesome and bizarre bookstore ever.
"Junk'd" is a horror story about a couple of low life a-holes who end up in a car wreck. One walks away, one doesn't, but there is so much more and this story goes to a whole new level of depravity. It's so sick and twisted.
"Shrines" is my favorite story in the whole collection. It's a novella with fantastical and sci-fi elements, and is a magnificent character study of a man who has lost the two most important people in his life. He is tempted by a possible scam that offers to reunite him with his dead wife and child. This story is so expertly drawn that I found myself pulled through the narrative and immersed completely. Few stories are so good that I lose myself, and I found that happened with this one.
I look forward very much to reading Connolly's novel, Veins, and his other collections of short fiction.
Voices: Tales of Horror is Highly recommended,
Editor of The Crimson Pact and Author of the Iron Dragon Series