Reviews so far of these two stories:
MIDNIGHT FLIGHT by Joel Lane
Paul Cooksey, a man in his twilight years, is feeling lost in the noise of the modern world, estranged by the fast moving flurry of chattering cell phones and the constant hubbub of electronic devices. One twilight evening, whilst riding the bus near the Hockney Flyover, he suddenly recalls reading a collection of stories about ‘winged nocturnal creatures’ in his youth in 1956. These stories, his ailing memory recalls, had a profound effect on the imagination of his twelve year old self, and he decides therefore to track down first the book, then its editor Thom Parr in the hope of relieving his intense feelings of loss and loneliness. You have to read this atmospheric and painful story to find out what happens to Paul and his quest. The tale is filled with a beautiful and melancholy palette of dark blues, blacks and purples, and the whispery sound of wings in the night.
“…movingly captures the onset of senile dementia and accompanying memory loss,…” (Black Static # 25 – TTA Press)
In “Horror Stories for Boys” Rachel Kendall presents a powerful story of a man suffering from migraines who must visit his dying father and face an abusive past. The author managed to make me feel that bitter-sweetness of nostalgia – even though the past evoked isn’t mine – and although light on plot, this is mature and emotional writing. Of a similar calibre is “Midnight Flight” by Joel Lane about an old man losing his memory, searching for a book he recalls from childhood. Both these tales satisfy with very brittle emotions and atmopshere.
Joel Lane’s gift for the evocation of contemporary urban despair and the darkly redemptive promise of the uncanny makes the remembered anthology Midnight Flight powerfully symbolic in a story of the same name.
In the best pieces the device of the horror anthology is integral to the story. Joel Lane’s beautiful meditation “Midnight Flight” treats its themes – the elusive fictional anthology at its center, urban alienation, aging, regret – with deceptive delicacy and control. Some of these elements, especially the urban grayness and decay seen through the eyes of an outsider narrator, have been worn thin by the heavy tread of decades of urban horrorists, but Lane folds his story inward to its conclusion with a convincing feel for the workings of fate and, in the process, strikes unsettling notes that carry after the last page is turned.
Midnight Flight by Joel Lane. Is a brilliantly moving tale of an old man loosing his mememory who feels completely out of touch with a modern world. He begins a quest to track down a book and its edititor , that he remembers reading from his youth. This is at times a hard and painfull tale to read, not because of bad writing, but due to the intense emotional imagary of the story.
Joel Lane provides “Midnight Flight”, an excellent, melancholy story ostensibly about a man trying to retrieve an elusive horror anthology read in his childhood, actually a story about loneliness, ageing and the endless quest for the meaning of life.
In Joel Lane’s “Midnight Flight” an elderly man, in the grip of dementia, seems only half aware that he is out of kilter with the modern world but forms a fierce determination to track down a half-remembered book of horror stories from his childhood. As he searches, his childhood memories surge up to obliterate the present. The quest for the book becomes a quest for the book’s author and ultimately for the remaining shreds of his own identity. The story gives us an exquisitely detailed description of the process of amnesia and the stories, the memories of stories, that we cling to when we are out of touch with all else in this fast-disintegrating world.
ALL HIS WORLDY GOODS by D.P. Watt
After taking care of his mother Susan who has passed away after battling a prolonged illness a few month’s prior to the beginning of the story, Alan now spends his days working in a charity bookshop. He lives just a few miles away in his mother’s empty house on the top of a nearby hill. Liz, the store’s proprietor, seems to be fixed on modernizing her shop and she has therefore hired a new helping hand, David, a university student, to bring things up to date. One day a man called Eli Webb comes into the store with the intention of donating a box of books to the store. One volume in particular, a collection of horror stories which is presented equally as an occult work and a grimoire called ‘The Supernatural Omnibus’, catches Alan’s attention. D.P. Watt manages to infuse a sense of melancholy and nostalgia with a skillfully controlled mounting sense of dread, and finally, a hard earned sense of revelation which also serves as a pitch perfect conclusion to this skillfully assembled anthology of horror stories. A sentence on the volume’s last page underneath another of Tony Lovell’s effective black and white images very appropriately reads: ‘A treebook beats an ebook, by dint of ditch or haha.’
“…a story of loneliness and alienation,…” (Black Static #n25 – TTA Press)
The book ends on a high note with “All His Wordly Goods” by D.P. Watt, the ghostly tale of a man who works in a charity shop and discovers that a donated volume – the Supernatural Omnibus – refuses to leave him alone. Well written, and suffused with a creepy, small town claustrophobia, this tale also nails that fragility of lost childhood.
All His Worldly Goods by D.P. Watt The anthology is rounded of in great fashion with rather sad tale that builds with a great sense of menace and dread, this is the perfect story to finish off this anthology.
Watt’s “All His Worldly Goods” is an excellent, solid piece of fiction where a copy of Montague Summers’ “The Supernatural Omnibus” ( that anthology really exists! I got a copy on my shelves…) keeps haunting a lonelybookshop clerk. A great mix of horror and nostalgia.
While most writers make an effort to make characters engaging, quirky or interesting, Mr. Watt has deliberately given us a horrifically dull individual, who apparently has no interests, hobbies, friends, or discernible personality. As the character says himself, he may as well be dead, and in the end, death is the most interesting thing that happens. Yet the story is gripping – an excellent coda for a wonderful book.
In D.P. Watt’s story, “All Your Worldly Goods”, we are introduced to the deceptively cosy world of a charity shop volunteer. His carefully regulated life is gradually undermined when a mysterious man brings a fateful book into the shop. The very ordinariness of the man’s life, its petty jealousies and creeping sense of worthlessness creates a profoundly moving setting.
Any further reviews after 20 Jan 12 will appear in the comments below.
My own views: http://horroranthology.wordpress.com/editors-story-by-story-commentary/