Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The White Hands and Other Weird Tales

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you're longing for Ligotti or pining for Poe, you should add Mark Samuels to your list of Most Desirable Authors. The works in this volume are dark surrealism at its brooding best. These are stories I wish I had written. Though one of them is more of a mood piece than a story, the remainder have enough plot to interest the most demanding page turner, while the rich prose will please the most discerning reader. All of them are thick with atmosphere - gray, lonely, and sinister. These stories are full of mystic tomes, a'la Lovecraft. In fact, one story, "The Search for Kruptos," partially takes place in a city full of books. Sounds enticing to a book lover, no? No! Oh, please, no, don't go there! You may end up asking yourself if you really want to keep reading at all after finishing Kruptos. "Black as Darkness" will have you fidgeting when you next view any number of experimental movies or, indeed, any movie done in monochrome. "The Impasse" is what Kafka would have written on a bad PCP trip. "Vrolyck" is one of the most intriguing of the bunch. With it, Samuels might have invented a new sub-sub-sub genre of "pseudo-meta-fictional-quasi-autobiographical-horrific-surreal-dark fantasy". You'll know what I mean when you read it. And you should read it. All of it. But beware: Once you've read The White Hands and Other Weird Tales, there's no going back. From that point on, you'll hesitate whenever you reach out to read a book, put a black-and-white movie in the DVD player, or see a mysterious bit of graffiti against a slum wall. And you should hesitate. In fact, you should just withdraw into a shell and not peek out. Ever. Don't trust anything!

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