Gargoyle 57 by Richard Peabody
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the second time editor Richard Peabody has published my work in the pages of Gargoyle. In fact, I've taken my first-published Gargoyle work as the title story in my e-chapbook collection Fossiloctopus. So I'd be ungrateful if I didn't acknowledge some debt there to Peabody's good taste.
Still, I felt that this issue of Gargoyle ran hot and cold. When it is hot, it's white hot. But when it's cold, the stories and poetry seemed like so much navel gazing. On balance, the mix is good. Not fantastic, but good and recommended because of the sheer breadth of work.
I recall a conversation I had with author Stepan Chapman after Jeff VanderMeer and I won the World Fantasy Award for editing Leviathan 3. Stepan remarked that the volume was so big that "there's something for everyone to hate". And this might just be my problem with this issue of Gargoyle. It's huge, 591 pages. And there is something here for everyone to hate, no doubt about it. The flip side of this, of course, is that there's something here for everyone to love, as well. Really, there are some great stories and, if poetry is your bent, great poetry, as well.
I particularly enjoyed the stories that bordered on the fantastical and surreal. Standouts for me were Joyce Mansour's "Four Poems: Paris of the Surrealists in 1977", Robert Kloss' "How the Old Man Trained his Assassins", Ben Loory's "The Swimming Pool: A Fable", and Jonathan Mack's "The Extinction of Stories". But the standout piece was Wena Poon's excerpt from "The Biophilia Omnibus". I will be seeking out the full book, for sure. Rarely does an excerpt grab me like that. It has that mix of literary aloofness and Science Fiction thriller intensity that I love. It's a beautifully dark melange, one that leaves me craving more.
I count 77 pieces of fiction alone in this issue of Gargoyle. I guarantee there is something in there to strike your fancy, maybe even punch your fancy in the mouth and break its teeth. Poon's work did that for me. Brace yourself and wear a mouthpiece while reading. You're bound to be caught by a surprise uppercut somewhere in there.
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