Review published on November 28, 2016.
John Collier (1901-1980) was an eclectic British author and a skilled short story writer. His stories have been compared to those of the likes of Ambrose Bierce, Evelyn Waugh and Somerset Maugham, but he had a voice of his own, an elegant narrative style cleverly employed to address the fantastic as well as the macabre, comedy as well as drama, often with a tongue-in-cheek attitude.
Tartarus Press has collected twenty-six of Collier’s stories in one of its classy hardcover volumes, offering an opportunity for today’s readers to get acquainted (or re-acquainted) with the work of this interesting author.
Among the more noteworthy tales are “Man Overboard”, an accomplished example of psychological horror depicting a freak sea accident; “Special Delivery, a surrealistic piece portraying a man madly in love with a mannequin; “Thus I refute Beelzy”, a short, nasty tale about children’s fantasies; “Witch’s Money”, a modern fairy tale featuring ignorance and greed; and “Little Memento”, a bittersweet piece wherein a man receives some unpleasant, private information from a nosy neighbour.
The title story, “Green Thoughts”, is a delicious masterpiece of botanical horror featuring a dangerous carnivorous plant, while the famous, often anthologised “De Mortuis” is a splendid piece of dark humour. The excellent “In the Cards” is a smart story showing how card reading may sometimes provide deceiving glimpses of the future, while the humorous “A Matter of Taste” is an elegant whodunit revolving around a box of chocolates.
By no means a fairy tale, the offbeat “Sleeping Beauty”addresses the subjects of love, obsession and ingratitude, while “Youth from Vienna”, a delightful black comedy, makes us meditate on the fear of ageing and the inevitable disappointments of love.
In short, this is an attractive showcase of a talented writer’s fiction and it is likely to resuscitate the author’s reputation and elicit new interest in his work.
Mario Guslandi 4/4
Green Thoughts & Other Stories by John Collier
Tartarus Press 9781905784875 hbk Sep 2016
Hunting Spectres by Lynda Panther
The Incomplete Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing by John Crace and John Sutherland
You may also like
AMS Digital MD, Alastair Giles and nudge and newbooks publisher, Guy Pringle are agreed this book ......
These are the opening lines from which books? Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the ......