A presentation of a career-spanning examination into the author's own life, this collection includes both his first published short stories and his latest award-winning stories.
"The Dripping" (1971) came to the author in a dream that most would regard as a nightmare. In this eerie little number, a father faces his worst fear when his family goes missing. Morrell suffered his own family tragedy in January of 1987, when his son Matt was diagnosed with bone cancer. "Orange Is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity" (the Horror Writers Association's best novella of 1988) was written shortly before Matt's death. Writing about a mad painter kept Morrell sane: "The made-up horror was paradoxically providing a barrier from real-life horror." But after Matt's death, Morrell was besieged with panic attacks, and could do nothing but "stare at the ceiling" for three years. A harrowing story about lost children and a long buried family secret, "The Beautiful Uncut Hair of Graves" (another HWA award-winner) signified Morrell's return to short fiction. The title is taken from Walt Whitman's poem about death and children; John Rambo's name is a pun on Arthur Rimbaud. Morrell is a genre writer with a poet's soul.
And whether he's writing stories of subtle psychological terror or conjuring up scenarios of pure horror, Morrell never fails to scare the bejesus out of us. --Naomi Gesinger --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
The stories selected for inclusion are presented in order of composition. In Morrell's words, they "wear their age well." "Tales of dark suspense," he continues, "their approach is different from that of my international thrillers. You won't find spies and round-the-globe intrigue here. What you will find are the stark emotions behind that intrigue: fear and trembling."
Fear does indeed lurk at the heart of these stories, and in many
permutations. This may be fear for the safety of your loved ones ("The Dripping"), fear of being exposed as a fraud ("The Typewriter"), or the fear of being caught up in someone else's delusions ("But at My Back I Always Hear You"). Each successive story peers deeper into the dark, revealing just how close at hand it really is. Whether he is writing about an apocalyptic thunderstorm, a high school football team that owes its
success to an idol, or a town paralyzed with fear over the presence of a serial killer, Morrell writes with an edge of the seat immediacy, an urgency that communicates his characters' fears directly to his readers.
How good are these stories? Consider this: the majority found homes in the premier anthologies of the eighties and nineties, including WHISPERS, SHADOWS, NIGHT VISIONS, PRIME EVIL, and DARK AT HEART.Read more ›