Tuesday, January 28, 2014

De-Klein

Reassuring Tales by T.E.D. Klein (2006), containing the following stories: Camera Shy (1988); Growing Things (1999); Curtains for Nat Crumley (1996); Magic Carpet (1976); One Size Eats All (1993); Ladder (1990); Well-Connected (1987); S.F. (1975); They Don't Write 'em Like This Anymore: A TV Treatment in Two Versions (1989); and The Events at Poroth Farm (1972).

Oh, T.E.D. Klein. One of the four or five great editors of horror of the past fifty years. Writer of a handful of the scariest novellas ever written. Writer of one great horror novel, The Ceremonies (1984), which should be read by anyone who enjoys reading literate horror. And so, so, so writer's-blocked since the mid-1980's, though rumour has had it for years that lurking somewhere in Klein's house is a lengthy, unfinished horror novel which may yet be completed and see the light of day.

This relatively recent volume collects pretty much every piece of short fiction not collected in Klein's cyclopean masterpiece of a collection of four novellas, 1985's Dark Gods. And Reassuring Tales is for Klein completists, really, and perhaps no one else. Though the great, early novella that Klein would expand into The Ceremonies, "The Events at Poroth Farm," is indeed collected here.

Some of the other stories are close to being juvenilia ("S.F.") while others are short gimmick stories ("One Size Eats All"). Klein's introduction to the volume is hilariously, almost troublingly self-deprecating -- if you've ever wanted to read a writer mercilessly trashing his own work even when it's decent material, then this is the collection for you.

But, "The Events at Poroth Farm." Pop pop! Some intelligent person at a publishing house great or small or in-between needs to publish a new edition of Dark Gods, with "...Poroth Farm" installed in its more reasonable place among those four other great novellas. Klein's output has been relatively tiny, but he still looms as a giant over American horror fiction for this exact handful of novellas and that one dynamite novel (and the editorship of Twilight Zone magazine for five years in the 1980's). Recommended for the novella, and for Klein completists.

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