I cannot however trust Grant about Bruce Francis, a writer who apparently only ever published two stories: he states Francis has a long career ahead of him. Not with the frustratingly elusive and fractured short-short, "To See You With, My Dear." I felt like something's going on, but I - just -couldn't - grasp - it. Some nice imagery that I think was supposed to link together to imply... Lycanthropy? Dream transference? Psychotic delusion? Grrr. Same thing with Steve Rasnic Tem's "At the Bureau," a sort of eternal-recurrence riff that ends uneasily if vaguely. "Opening a Vein," from crime duo Bill Pronzini and Barry Malberg, is only a page long, jumping off with an I Am Legend-inspired pun to imagine a new genesis by a familiar demiurge. Mostly these were stylistic experiments rather than full short stories.
William F. Nolan, is hokey and silly; next. Peter Pautz's "Ant" is another all-too-quiet, subtle story of an odd young boy's first experience of death, parental strife, and perhaps how the two are entwined. I preferred "Wish Hound," by science-fiction scribe Pat Murphy, which has a nicely nasty ending, and Ray Russell's "Avenging Angel," a black-comic revenge story about a particularly unlikable painter artiste. I really have enjoyed what I've read of Russell's work and really need to get a copy of Sardonicus, his 1961 modern-gothic story. "Tell Mommy What Happened" is Alan Ryan's little gem of dawning revelation, that moment when the seemingly inconsequential trivialities of everyday life open up unexpected vistas of horror. Aw yeah!
A pensive Grant.
But there is seldom a doubt that the shadow over there,
the one in the middle of the noonday desert,
Other good stuff: for fans of the politely told and old-fashioned tale of weirdness and mystery (literally Holmesian in one), there are "The Ghost Who Limped" by R. Chetwynd Hayes, "Janey's Smile" by Juleen Brantingham, and "The Brown Recluse," by Night of the Hunter author Davis Grubb. These are, along with "Cabin 33" and "Tell Mommy," the best in this volume, with carefully-chosen language appropriate for the subject matter. Hayes and Grubb are master craftsmen indeed. They also feature that sort of last-line climax so often seen in horror fiction, and I think they really work.
the first volume in the series, but I believe I will be dwelling amidst these Shadows for some time to come...