cover image SLEEP DISORDER


Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, . . Gauntlet, $40 (149pp) ISBN 978-1-887368-69-8

For years Ketchum (Peaceable Kingdom ) and Lee (City Infernal ) have written taboo-breaking horror fiction that's invariably provocative and sometimes good taste–challenged. This collection of their five collaborative stories is the literary equivalent of a frat-house Halloween party, full of cheesy shocks, raunchy sex and gross-out humor. "I'd Give Anything for You" and "Love Letters from the Rain Forest" have carbon copy plots involving nymphomaniacal young women who spurn wimpy suitors for studly hunks and pay for their choice with grisly fates. "Eyes Left" delivers more of the same, offering its account of an alluring female zombie who turns tables on a group of drooling barflies as a morality tale on the wrongness of sexual objectification. The title story, about a man unhinged in waking life by a secret existence lived in his slumbers, relies on a trite narrative shortcut—a tape recorder that catches the truth while he sleeps—to unravel its mystery. Only "Masks," about magically endowed masks that bring out the subconscious impulses of an intimate couple, succeeds in conveying the strangeness of uncanny experience. The book also includes first drafts of two stories, one by each of the authors, that show Lee to be the more prone of the pair to inventive descriptions of bodily functions. This book is unlikely to earn either author new readers, but neither is it likely to deter the hardcore fans at whom it clearly is aimed. (Dec.)