Meet Me in the Middle of the Air: Dark Miracles and Black Comedies

Eric Schaller. Undertow, $17.99 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-0-9938951-8-0
In a remarkably effective debut collection, illustrator Schaller insinuates that perceptions can’t be trusted, and a second look at familiar, comfortable surroundings may reveal them to be bizarre and threatening. The 19 stories here include an urban horror tale of a creature that crawls into the open mouth of a snorer and occupies his body (“The Parasite”), a heavy conversation between a man and his lamp (“Talking at Sixty Watts”), and a cruel carnival sideshow act that becomes terribly brutal (“The Sparrow Mumbler”). Perhaps the most effective piece is “To Assume the Writer’s Crown: Notes on the Craft,” a story in the form of an instructive essay that tells its readers to create an increasingly horrifying scenario, leaving them to wonder whether it’s the author or the reader who has the skewed and distorted imagination. Schaller is both unflinching and delicate in his dissection of human vulnerability. This most impressive collection will immediately earn him a devoted following among literary horror fans. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2016
Release date: 02/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
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