Wednesday, October 31, 2012

70. Crystalline blood and } "Terrible Things."


My contributor’s copy of Shadows & Tall Trees #4 arrived a day before the hurricane. Tucked at the binding was a page torn from a copy of The Crystal Geyser. I assumed editor Michael Kelly was playing a joke, that he’d found another copy of the book I mentioned here in June and thought it might spook me to see a page from it turn up in my mail.

Finding the page did spook me, especially when I read it over—I’d read the weird little book through but I didn’t remember this: “…is presumably flint crystalline blood, brilliantly clear, but red-hued, found during the Regime of the Flood, caught in its scrub of ugly useless trees and in the animals sheltered by those trees…”—or any of what followed. And I discovered that the page Michael sent me was missing from my copy.

I emailed Michael—who lives in Canada, who has never visited my home—and asked how he did it, and he wrote back to tell me he had no idea what I was on about. He added, “and according to the almighty Internet, there is no book called The Crystal Geyser. There’s a bottled water called Crystal Geyser. There’s an actual geyser called Crystal in Utah—but no book. I’m sure, since you have a copy, that there is a book called The Crystal Geyser, but I don’t own a copy. You got me curious,” he continued, “so I emailed the other contributors and they didn’t get any mysterious pages with their copies, and none of the books I pulled from the boxes sitting here in my living room have extra pages. Maybe you’re playing a joke on me?”

Of Shadows &Tall Trees, I haven’t read all the issue yet—I just finished “Senbazuru” by V.H. Leslie. The most exciting story in the issue so far is “Terrible Things” by David Surface. If it doesn’t end up reprinted in a best-of anthology, or on the final ballot of one of horror’s little literary awards, it’s time to reconsider the worth of those institutions. Excellent “Senbazuru” is an echo of horrors, of hydrogen bombs and interment camps and of Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”—a story that goes round and round in my head as a favorite.

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