Douglas Clegg, Author . Cemetery Dance $40 (720p) ISBN 978-1-58767-088-6

When a character in Clegg's "I Am Infinite: I Contain Multitudes" observes, "Love transformed into fear. It's the human story," he could be describing just about any one of the 39 eerie and provocative tales gathered in this career retrospective. Their horrors are all the more unsettling because they grow out of love, friendship, family ties and other emotional bonds, which, in Clegg's hands, show a natural tendency to turn malignant and pathological. In "People Who Love Life," a man's inability to give up loving a woman raises her from the dead against her will. "Underworld" tells of a haunting that culminates in a dead wife giving birth to a child as the final expression of love for her husband. In "The Words," high school misfits form a bond of friendship that leads ineluctably to their tampering with occult forces and unleashing horrors into the world. Even in a story such as "Ice Palace," about a fraternity prank gone horribly wrong, an expression of affection turns perverse and leads the narrator into an otherworldly realm whose strangeness seems to perfectly capture his own emotional ambivalence. Clegg (Afterlife ) doesn't entirely avoid the classic figures of horror, such as the vampire in "White Chapel" and the Lovecraftian obsessive in "Purity," but he works startlingly original variations on them. Filled with penetrating character studies and haunting insights into the dark side of the human condition, these highly original stories are some of the best short horror fiction written since the 1980s. Agent, Simon Lipskar. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 01/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
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