cover image Everything in All the Wrong Order: The Best of Chaz Brenchley

Everything in All the Wrong Order: The Best of Chaz Brenchley

Chaz Brenchley. Subterranean, $45 (568p) ISBN 978-1-64524-011-2

These 32 superior stories from Lambda Award winner Brenchley (Bitter Waters) represent a tiny fraction of the gifted, prolific author’s output, but nevertheless showcase his ability to craft impactful shorts. Even the flash fiction pieces, among them “White Tea for the Tiller Man” and “Quinquereme of Nineveh,” pack considerable punch. Brenchley’s radiant prose is one reason: “Another Chart of the Silences” begins: “Some people think that a breathless hush is the natural state of the universe, as darkness is: that sound is like light, a rebellion of angels, a thin and fierce and ultimately doomed attempt to hold back the crushing weight of utter stillness.” The narrator of this standout entry pushes back against that belief, maintaining instead that white noise is a universal constant. What follows is a surprising encounter with a boy who’s drawn into the narrator’s efforts to chart the possibly haunted, shipwrecking rocks known as the Silences. The sea also figures in another of the more memorable tales, the fun “Keep the Aspidochelone Floating,” which features Brenchley’s recurring character Sailor Martin. Every entry enhances creative plots and plausible characterizations with outstanding writing. This sampler of Brenchley’s work makes clear his mastery. (Aug.)