A rich, inventively written collection. Tops is Louise Erdrich’s “Le Mooz,” first published in the New Yorker. A pair of contrarian newlywed Ojibwa—he’s outlived six wives, she’s exhausted three husbands—fight, fight, and fight some more. She sees a moose in the stream, rouses him to chase it. He loops a rope about its horns, and it pulls him through woods for two days in his flat-bottomed boat. When he dies, still “stiff as a horn,” she climbs aboard and grimly tries to ride him back to life. Harlan Ellison kicks off the volume with “Incognita, Inc.,” which shows him in peak form. Incognita provides maps for fantastical lost worlds: Oz, Skull Island, El Dorado, the Seven Cities of Cibola, Asgard and Midgard, The Garden of Eden, Barsoom, Atlantis, Avalon, Yoknapatawpha County, Grover’s Mills, you name it. But the mapmaker and his office are being downsized right off the map, alas. In Jonathan Carroll’s inspired “The Heidelberg Cylinder,” Hell is overflowing and people up on earth are being kicked out of their houses to make room for dead sinners. Whole neighborhoods are dotted with furniture piled on lawns. When the sinner moves in, he can redecorate the house as Rick’s Place from Casablanca or whatever he wishes. Whenever you step outdoors, you have to turn on your flames as if you’re in great pain. But don’t let this get out, or people will be dying to get in. Standouts also include Neil Gaiman’s gorgeous fairy-tale poem, “Instructions,” Jack Dann’s raising of “Marilyn” by self-hypnosis and yoga for his introduction to sex, two stories by Ramsey Campbell, and Laurence Goldstein’s “Meeting the Graiae,” a poem that dips into Greek myth and turns on the line “I need the address of the Nymphs.”
Not to be missed.