THE USHERS by Edward Lee


Age Range: 1 - 32767
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paper 1-891480-03-0 Cult fiction for necrophiliacs, in an anthology that reinstates the more horrid passages Lee removed for magazine publication. These are the kinds of stories that ghouls sit up all night reading while sucking on maggots. That characterization will not likely injure the author’s feelings, since he describes his own writing as “a joyride through a whorehouse in hell” or “a break-neck trip down a waterslide only to land in a wafting, hot corpse-pile.” Well, yes, these ripe self-estimates do Lee justice. He delves fearlessly into the worst that human life has to offer, much as Beckett stares very hard into darkness and finds no delight aside from the joys of language. If only Lee (widely published in genre —zines and paperback but previously unreviewed by Kirkus) had the Irishman’s gift for words. “Death, She Said,— the first story here—which is about as sweet as a dead mouse—inverts Dickens’s A Christmas Carol: a man about to slash his wrists is shown the upside of life by the angel of death (a whore) who woos him back from the brink, then shows him a downside so ghastly that the upside is meaningless. In the writing game you buy your own coffin and dig your own grave—even with a marvelously padded satin lining like Updike’s and maybe a swell cenotaph—and you lie in it. Lee for now has chopped off his legs at the ankles and dances on his own grave.

Pub Date: Dec. 20th, 1999
ISBN: 1-891480-04-9
Page count: 301pp
Publisher: Obsidian
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1999


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