Sunday, December 17, 2017

Book Review: Exploring Dark Short Fiction #1: A Primer to Steve Rasnic Tem by Eric J. Guignard (Editor) & Steve Rasnic Tem

Exploring Dark Short Fiction #1: A Primer to Steve Rasnic Tem

by Eric J. Guignard (Goodreads Author) (Editor), Steve Rasnic Tem (Goodreads Author) (Contributor), Michael A. Arnzen (Goodreads Author) (Contributor), Michelle Prebich (Illustrator)

paperback, 224 pages

Published July 2017 by Dark Moon Books

Lets talk first about this format, which is fair I think because it is the first in a series. Edited by Eric J. Guignard I think he is on to something special here. If this is the system he is going to follow. This is a really, really cool book and the format is inspired. It has six short stories by the subject of the book, including one new to this edition. A long and complete bibliography, each story comes with academic commentary,beautiful art and an essay on the genre from Tem.

When I closed the book my first thought was all the authors I would love to see in this series. Lisa Morton, Cody Goodfellow, Stephen Graham Jones, to name a few. I have no idea who Guignard has in mind but I am ready to trust him as I love the format.

OK I am familiar with Steve Rasnic Tem but not a huge devotee. I read and reviewed a collection of stories he co-wrote with his late wife. I had read stories here and there and was a fan of a novel of Melanie Tem but have yet to read one of his. So I was a prime candidate for this book. The Six stories were a great example of various tones and subjects in horror. I finished the book very interested in his most recent novel and I will read more.

Several of the stories had moments of humor but most were dark in all the right ways. "Hungry" the first story was great at setting the tone and I like that we got introduced to the author's work with the same story as the editor. That was a neat touch. The story played with the freak show setting and made for a wonderful story environment. The second story "The Last Moments Before Bed" was to me the most powerful story in the book, this absolute heartbreaker of a story that explores loss.

All the commentaries written by author and PHD Michael Arnzen all added depth to the experience and in a few cases confirmed my feelings on stories. I have admit on the Christmas story new to this book I didn't catch some of the elements Arnzen brought up. It was great because I re-read the story with new eyes.

This is not just a great collection and introduction to a underrated writer, it is great showcase on the nuts and bolts of what makes short horror fiction work. This is a book that may some day be taught, I don't say that lightly.

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