Congratulations to Sharon Borrege, winner of last week's Friday Freebie, Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms by Carmela Ciuraru.
Windeye by Brian Evenson, recently published by Coffee House Press. This collection of 25 short stories is unnerving, unsettling, and invigorating--each of them fine-honed tales of literary horror. Here's the publisher's blurb to tell a little more about the book:
A woman falling out of sync with the world; a king's servant hypnotized by his murderous horse; a transplanted ear with a mind of its own—the characters in these stories live as interlopers in a world shaped by mysterious disappearances and unfathomable discrepancies between the real and imagined. Brian Evenson, master of literary horror, presents his most far-ranging collection to date, exploring how humans can persist in an increasingly unreal world. Haunting, gripping, and psychologically fierce, these tales illuminate a dark and unsettling side of humanity.
I put Windeye to the standard first-paragraph test and found several instances of creepy prose which could stand strong beside the best of writers like Edgar Alan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, or Peter Straub. Here are just a few of my favorites:
In early spring, Harmon's sister disappeared. One moment she was standing at the edge of the property, near the back fence, the dog just beside her, listening to him plow. The next both she and the dog were gone. He noted their absence passively as he turned the tractor to cut the next set of rows, and thought nothing of it. Later, once he was done, he went into the house and called, was surprised when neither she nor the dog came. The dog he found a half-day later, just outside the back fence, its throat slit open. Of his sister, however, there was no sign.
--from "The Dismal Mirror"
When they had grown tired of prodding the old man with a stick, they left the stick where it was and continued down the tunnel, Jansen trailing along the left wall, Lindskold along the right. It grew darker and for a time Lindskold couldn't see. He moved forward solely by touch and by listening to Jansen's feet. Then the light grew a little better, the ceiling punctuated every ten or so meters by a plate-sized grate through which leaked a pale light. Jansen's missing hand, Lindskold noticed only then, seemed to have grown back.
--from "The Tunnel"
I lost my eye when I was a child, running through the forest as part of some game or other. At the time I was with two other children, a boy and a girl, a brother and sister, neither of whom I knew or, indeed, had even seen before. It was one of them, the skinny shoeless boy, who suggested the game. I cannot now remember much about it, only that when I lost the eye I had been giggling and chasing the girl, though was also being pursued by the boy. In my flight, a thin, barbed branch snapped back and lashed like a wire, slashing a deep scar across my nose and tearing the eye itself free of the socket to leave it unseeing and ruptured on the cheek.
--from "The Absent Eye"
If you'd like a chance at winning a new paperback copy of Windeye, all you have to do is email your name and mailing address to email@example.com
Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. One entry per person, please. Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on July 19—at which time I'll draw the winning name. I'll announce the lucky reader on July 20. If you'd like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week Quivering Pen newsletter, simply add the words "Sign me up for the newsletter" in the body of your email. Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).
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