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The small dark room of the soul and other stories Paperback – 1994
From the Inside Flap
There can be no light without darkness.
The sun cannot rise without the night preceding it, and the setting sun of the day must inevitably fade to black. If life were all sunshine and roses, there would be no contrast. Perpetual sunshine would be both blinding and devastating. We need the darkness. It is an integral part of the whole.
Part of us.
Horror stories are a reflection of our darker side. In an age of very real terrors like A.I.D.S., cancer, and terrorism, stories that frighten us can perform a useful function by allowing readers to live out and experience fear in a controlled fashion and deal with horror on their own terms. If it gets to be too much, they can always close the book and put it away. Experiencing horror in this way works as an anxiety release because it is a tangible way to deal with and escape the terrors of modern living.
The emotion of horror keeps us in touch with the darker aspects of ourselves while allowing us to confront our own vulnerability and inevitable death. Reading horror is a valve that allows steam to escape when the buildup is too great, yet the fictionality of it gives us an escape from a confrontation that could overwhelm us. It provides a cathartic release without oppressing us with more than we can handle.
Too often we shun our dark side in hopes that if we don't see it, it doesn't exist. Yet give us an Ed Gein, Charlie Manson, Ted Bundy, Hannibal Lecter, Jeffrey Dahmer, or any other grisly example of the dark side of human nature, and we express a morbid fascination that borders on frenzy.
We can't help but slow down on the highway to gawk at the carnage of another's untimely, messy death or sneak that guilty peek at another's deformity or misfortune.
We just have to look.
How many Jeffrey Dahmer jokes have we laughed at, then in the same breath said how disgusting it all is.
Strange creatures, human beings.
Fact is, our dark side is an inescapable part of our makeup. There's a little bit of Hannibal and Jeffrey in all of us, the problem is most of us don't want to acknowledge it.
Through the ages, countless spiritual disciplines have urged us to look within ourselves and seek the truth. Part of that truth resides in a small, dark room -- one we are afraid to enter. If we can only push aside the dark door of fear that holds us at bay and rescue the part of our souls that cringes in the dark, we might come to a better understanding of what makes us tick.
We have to take this unmentionable part of ourselves out into the light of truth so we can know its nature, because if we are to confront the uncomfortable truth, we must look in the face of the demon and admit that it is in us. When we're finished, we can let the monster crawled back into its dark abyss until the next play time.
If you're timid of spirit and afraid of the dark, it's time to take a look at what lies behind your own door of fear so you can glimpse the twisted evil that lies in all of us. Within these pages we can play with it, poke it, and probe it in hopes that we may better understand the wholeness that makes up our being.
Who says we can't have fun doing it? After all, the little monster is part of us.
March 1994 M.P.
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These are primarily stories about situations arising from human greed, or in one instance, sorrow. Sometimes the hero or anti-hero wins, and other times he or she comes to a horrific end. Some have supernatural elements and others take place in the mundane world shared with the reader. Most have a twist at the end. One story, about a mechanic and a mysterious car, was just funny.
I liked the voodoo story best, the story whose title is also the title of the collection.
The next story from the collection that stood out for me was "Rusty," and I'm not a dog person. Neither was the young lady at the center of the story.
It was an intriguing collection featuring lean writing, without an unnecessary word anywhere. It was an enjoyable read, and I highly recommend it.