John Collier’s edgy, sardonic tales are works of rare wit, curious insight, and scary implication. They stand out as one of the pinnacles in the critically neglected but perennially popular tradition of weird writing that includes E.T.A. Hoffmann and Charles Dickens as well as more recent masters like Jorge Luis Borges and Roald Dahl. With a cast of characters that ranges from man-eating flora to disgruntled devils and suburban salarymen (not that it’s always easy to tell one from another), Collier’s dazzling stories explore the implacable logic of lunacy, revealing a surreal landscape whose unstable surface is depth-charged with surprise.
Intense like poems, compressed like epigrams, short stories have always inclined to the lyrical and biting. No story writer ever bit more sharply or wrote more gracefully than John Collier. When I first encountered his work, twenty-five years ago, I was shocked by his plots and delighted by his cruelty; now I take my delight in the dark silky stuff of his prose style, and the shock lies in his faultless execution and in his mastery of craft. If you don’t know his work, you owe yourself the pleasure—the indispensable pleasure—of Collier.
— Michael Chabon
Here is a world of moonshine and madness, of suburbia invaded by fiends and angels, of magic spells, grotesque melodrama and lunatic farce, surprising, ludicrous, terrifying.
— The New York Times
In this collection, Collier uses clever, evocative prose to tell dozens of brief tales that vault off at peculiar, fantastical angles with often startlingly—and amusingly—cruel conclusions….At his best it is a mystery how he fell from attention. Erased from history for half a century like a character in one of his stories, Collier deserves rediscovery.
— Rob Haynes, Time Out (London)
Preponderantly from the New Yorker, these haunted lullabies and sanguine whimsies which range from the civilized horror of Saki to extravagant parody, display an affectionate familiarity with evil, sharpen drama with irony.
— Kirkus Reviews
- Format: Paperback
- Publication Date: May 31, 2003
- Pages: 440
- ISBN: 9781590170519
- Series: NYRB Classics