cover image The Senior Girls Bayonet Drill Team and Other Stories

The Senior Girls Bayonet Drill Team and Other Stories

Joe R. Lansdale. Subterranean, $50 (456p) ISBN 978-1-64524-097-6

Eleven-time Bram Stoker Award winner Lansdale (Gothic Wounds) introduces this collection of 26 speculative shorts as a “mixed bag as far as types of stories go,” but even diehard fans may feel that description also applies to their quality. Some entries show Lansdale at his best, with imaginative Twilight Zone–esque premises and creepy atmospherics, while others hinge on forgettable gimmicks. Among the highlights is the taut and chilling “The Hungry Snow,” told from the perspective of an ostensible man of God who winds up trapped in a cave in the Rocky Mountains with a group of starving people who are under threat from a mythological creature. In “Hats,” another standout, a chance decision to enter a hat store changes a man’s life. On the other end of the quality spectrum are the silly “Gorillas in the Yard,” a lackluster two-pager about a caller complaining to the police that his yard is full of the great apes, and “The Mouse and the Elephant,” a fractured fairy tale that fizzles out on a unfunny punch line. This hit-or-miss outing is for completists only. Agent: Danny Baror, Baror International. (Nov.)