cover image Closing Time and Other Stories

Closing Time and Other Stories

Jack Ketchum, . . Gauntlet, $55 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-887368-90-2

Though Stoker-winner Ketchum is best known for his novels of hardcore horror (Off Season , etc.), the 19 stories in this collection reveal his skill at crafting short and subtle mood pieces about everyday folk who find themselves wrestling with overpowering emotions that occasionally open them to macabre experience. "Do You Love Your Wife?" tells of a man who sees his crumbling relationship with his lover mirrored in a cryptic violent nightmare. "Returns" is narrated by the ghost of a man who finds that his frustrating inability to spur his grieving lover to care for their pet cat crystallizes the emotional shortfall that distinguished their relationship. Though most of the stories conclude with surprising O. Henry twists, several simply follow the intersecting paths of multiple characters as their experiences conclude dramatically in inescapable tragedy, notably "Station Two" and the title story, which sets a haunting tale of personal loss involving two star-crossed lovers and a predatory robber against a backdrop of the incomprehensible devastation of the events of 9/11. These well-told tales are proof that quiet horrors wrought by a skilled writer can make powerful reading. (Feb. 28)