cover image In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper

In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper

Edited by Lawrence Block. Pegasus (Norton, dist.), $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-68177-245-5

Iconic American painter Edward Hopper serves as muse for editor Block and an impressive array of 16 other writers—including Megan Abbott, Robert Olen Butler, Lee Child, and Jeffery Deaver—who select their favorite Hopper paintings to inspire a short story. In “The Music Room,” contributor Stephen King, who happens to own a reproduction of Room in New York, 1932, turns that work’s seemingly innocent domestic scene—a man at a table reading a newspaper, a woman nearby striking a note on an upright piano—into a gruesome tableau involving a macabre scheme to stay ahead of the Great Depression. In a similar noir vein, for Joyce Carol Oates, Eleven A.M., 1926 (which depicts a naked woman seated in a comfortable chair staring out of a city window) inspires a suspenseful duel of murderous intentions as a mistress waits for her married lover to appear in “The Woman in the Window.” In “The Preacher Collects,” Hopper historian Gail Levin weighs in with a fictional tale (in which she plays a minor role) based on her scholarly research, depicting the nefarious means by which Rev. Arthayer R. Sanborn comes to own a cache of Hopper’s works. Block tops off this remarkable collection with “Autumn at the Automat,” inspired by Automat, 1927, in which a young woman has a clever strategy that will keep her flush in rent money, possibly for years. (Dec.)