A scattering of short, mostly minor efforts from one of the more underrated American writers of the fantastic (The Haunting of Hood Canal, 2001, etc.).
Critical wunderkind Cady spits out a volume of shorter pieces that, even when they don’t entirely succeed, have a good pulp resonance. The opener, “Lady With the Blind Dog,” is typical in that it comes from a hard-boiled older narrator—this one a contractor/would-be architect in San Francisco—and starts off with a rather doofy story about an Oracle-like old lady whom the narrator sees dragging the same pathetic, angry little dog through the streets. The story stumbles over some groaners (“With monsters, size doesn’t matter much”) and into a patient exploration of growing old and watching a city age and expand around you. “Halloween 1942” is short and sweet, a Bradbury-esque recollection of childhood, appropriately tinged with gothic atmospherics in a small Indiana town. A pair of nonfiction pieces, “Science Fiction, Utopia and the Spirit” and “On Writing the Ghost Story,” seem oddly out of place. They provide good enough advice and a learned reflection, but there’s something in Cady’s bluntness that doesn’t suit the essay form. Probably the meatiest selection, “The Ghost of Dive Bomber Hill,” is a gem. Set after WWII in a mountainous part of Kentucky and told by a truck driver, a typical square-jawed but thoughtful Cady narrator, it’s a great ghost story full of wisecracking vignettes and spooky interludes on deserted roads.
Some of the tales don’t pass muster, and ultimately the gathering feels like scrapings from the writer’s trunk. Cady has his fans, though, who appreciate his adroit phrasing and keen sense of the spooky.