*For note of disclosure, see below.
Stephen’s latest book, After the People Lights Have Gone Off, is a short story collection published by the new and impressive Dark House Press**. What I admire most about Stephen’s work is how fearlessly he approaches and employs possibility. It’s one thing to come up with the concept, the what-if, but Stephen pokes, prods, and expands his possibilities until you-the-reader arrive at this strange place that is simultaneously shocking and familiar. His fiction doesn’t shy away from the difficult implications and questions, nor does he shy away from the horror of inevitability.
The fifteen stories work individually and as a collective reading experience. You experience Stephen’s stories.
To some of the stories themselves:
“Thirteen” is local legend and hell in a movie theater and hell in a high school relationship. “Brushdogs” is a dread-filled hallucinogenic account of a father and son out hunting that I think could/should be read as a companion piece to “Father, Son, Holy Rabbit” (appeared in The Ones That Got Away). “The Spindly Man” is clever and fun in its group story setting (and its reference to Stephen King’s “The Man in the Black Suit”) until it’s not so fun. “This is Love” made me hurt. I wish I wrote story with the title “The Spider Box.” “Snow Monsters” puts a spin on the bargain-story and this one made me hurt even worse. The title story “After All the People Lights Have Gone Off” is a tour de force ghost story with some images that genuinely left me shuddering in a heap. A heap, I say.
So, yeah, just go buy his book already.
*Stephen is a friend of mine.
He does not resemble Frankenstein. We co-wrote a book together (available in Canada now, coming out soon in the USA). Like me he is tall and he hates pickles. It’s the pickles-hate that most threatens my objectivity. But! But! Stephen was a writer that I admired and was jealous of before I met him. I started haunting his email inbox after I read his genius DEMON THEORY. *)