Atmospheric, sometimes-nightmarish tales by the ever macabre Evenson (Windeye, 2012, etc.).
What do you do when, in a waking dream—or, better, a dream from which waking seems impossible—you have to defend yourself from a spectral figure that’s flitting through your pad? If you’re one of Evenson’s characters, you might not have the resources or the will to keep a gun handy. And what good would a gun do against a ghost, anyway? So you grab, naturally, a book, “the largest and heaviest one in the stack,” and hope for the best. But does that shadowy, scary figure even exist? There’s the question. So it is that in one story in this collection, “Click,” its very title filled with ominous portent, the protagonist is suffering brain trauma and cannot remember something most terrible that he has done. But is he really damaged or just crazy or just imagining it all? Evenson leaves the reader guessing so that we’re not sure whether to be relieved or alarmed when the doctor gets ready to drill holes for the steel plate in the skull. Drills and other such tools are things to be worried about, of course, as are Evenson’s foreshadowings: when a character begins remembering how his dad deftly slaughtered a pig—“You pull the bastard up and hold it and don’t pay no mind to how it struggles”—then you know that nothing good can come of it. Evenson’s stories, small masterworks of literary horror, are elegantly tense. They operate in psychological territory, never relying on grossness or slasher silliness to convey their scariness; they’re more like the Japanese horror of Pulse than the sanguinary adventures of Freddy Krueger, though they have the same watch-between-the-fingers quality.
For the Stephen King fan in the house: an author as capable, if a touch less prolific.