cover image Strange Weather: Four Short Novels

Strange Weather: Four Short Novels

Joe Hill. Morrow, $27.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-266311-5

Hill (The Fireman) delivers on the “strange” in this collection of four novellas, stretching from horror to magical realism to a straight thriller. In “Snapshot,” Hill allegorizes the damage of dementia when preteen Michael must protect his elderly neighbor, Shelly, from the Polaroid Man, who takes away memories with the flash of his camera. He changes genres with “Loaded,” a drama in which gun violence draws together a local journalist who witnessed her adopted brother’s murder by a cop, an adulterous couple with a fondness for guns, and a dishonorably discharged veteran turned mall cop who suspiciously saves the day at a mall shooting. In “Aloft,” a man decides to skydive to impress the woman he loves, but a bizarre crash leaves him stranded on a cloud, where he must face the truth about what loneliness is and how desire can obscure reality. In “Rain,” crystal shards fall from the sky, killing thousands; a woman travels from Boulder to Denver in the middle of the storms to check on her girlfriend’s family, dodging comet cultists and figuring out whether this disaster is related to climate change or chemical warfare. Hill’s collection may not be as horrific as his earlier 20th-Century Ghosts, but its ideas have powerful emotional and political resonance. Agent: Laurel Choate, Choate Agency. (Nov.)