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Excerpts from the Wilson horror oeuvre of the past 20 years, chosen by the author (Deep as the Marrow, 1997, etc.) as his choicest stories, all previously published in genre magazines and in his hardcover collections. Printed for the first time are a very bloody, busy, one-act stage adaptation of his story ""Pelts"" (set for Off-Broadway as part of a Grand Guignol evening called Screamplay, which never happened), and a 21-minute television play, ""Glim-Glim,"" for the show Monsters. These 13 short fictions and two plays range from the Lovecraftian (""The Barrens,"" Wilson's official tribute to HPL, which opens with the not very Lovecraftian sentence, ""I shot my answering machine today"") to the Western supernatural (""The Tenth Toe,"" a story dictated by Doc Holliday). Also here: the long ""A Day in the Life,"" about high-spirited disguise artist Repairman Jack, who appeared first in The Tomb (1981) and this year in Legacies. Each story in the sheaf gets its own introduction by Wilson, who tells about his ups and downs in the horror field while practicing medicine full-time and trying to be a good husband and a father to two teenage daughters, all while designing a flow chart to keep his submissions and rejections straight. Though some fans prefer Wilson's believable medical suspense thrillers to his supernatural tales, the present collection shows him richly endowed in the short form--but not as strong as in such novels as The Keep (Nazi vampires) and his malignant-entity trilogy begun in 1990 with Reborn--about an incredibly intelligent baby who reads books and newspapers. Aside from the title story, the one true standout here is ""Definitive Therapy,"" in which Wilson tries to outdo Jack Nicholson's version of The Joker in Batman by having The Joker locked up in Arkham Asylum and given a thorough psychiatric evaluation that eventually turns against the shrink himself. No disappointments here.

Pub Date: Dec. 10th, 1998
ISBN: 0312869509
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Forge/Tor