Walk on the Wild Side: The Best Horror Stories of Karl Edward Wagner, Vol. 2

Karl Edward Wagner, Author, Stephen Jones, Editor, J. K. Potter, Illustrator, Laird Barron, Afterword by, Peter Straub, Foreword by
Edited by Stephen Jones. Centipede, $45 (360p) ISBN 978-1-933618-98-2
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Though not as uniformly powerful as the longer stories in the first volume (Where the Summer Ends) of this two-book retrospective, the 26 shorter tales gathered here often raise goose bumps. “More Sinned Against,” set in the sleazy side of Hollywood, is a well-wrought tale of supernatural vengeance. In “Into Whose Hands,” a doctor plays Satan rather than God. The surreal shifts of identity that plague the protagonist of “Cedar Lane” are explained perfectly through its weird O. Henry–style twist ending. “The Slug,” “Did They Get You to Trade?” and “I’ve Come to Talk with You Again” are among a handful of stories in which writers wrestle unsuccessfully with personal demons—a theme that resonates with David Drake’s concluding eulogy to Wagner (1945–1994), “The Truth Insofar as I Know It,” which reveals how closely Wagner’s tragic final years paralleled some of his fiction. (Apr.)
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