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Reassuring Tales
T.E.D. Klein
Subterranean Press, 157 pages

Reassuring Tales
T.E.D. Klein
T.E.D. Klein was born and lives in New York City and attended Brown University where he became a fan of H.P. Lovecraft. He was the editor of Twilight Zone magazine from its inception in 1981 until 1985, and served as editor of the short-lived true crime magazine CrimeBeat from 1991 to 1993. He added "Eibon" to his name -- a reference to Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborean wizard -- so that when he used his initials in his byline, ala H.P. Lovecraft or M.R. James, they would spell out his nickname "Ted".

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A review by Mario Guslandi

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Mainly known for his cult novel The Ceremonies and his mythical collection Dark Gods, T.E.D. Klein is certainly one of the less prolific authors of dark fiction, much to the dismay of his many admirers who are constantly in waiting for new material.

If you're one of them, this new volume from Subterranean Press will probably leave you frustrated.

The claim that the book features "previously uncollected" stories may prove misleading unless you bear in mind the fact that this doesn't mean "previously unpublished." Don't get me wrong, the fiction therein is absolutely top notch (but by no means "reassuring") and there's not a single story even slightly disappointing.

Take for instance "Camera Shy." Although the key point of the story will be discovered pretty soon by the shrewd horror reader, the tale is so wonderfully crafted to be fully enjoyable from the beginning to its (predictable) ending.

In "Growing Things" we are delighted by the effective depiction of the dangers that living in the country can bring about to both dwelling and dwellers.

"Curtains for Nat Crumley" is a superb tale where a man steps out from his shower to find himself in a different reality and in a new, disquieting personality.

"One Size Fits All" is an entertaining piece revolving around a menacing sleeping bag, while "Magic Carpet" is a cute vignette taking place during an air flight.

"Ladder" constitutes a slightly philosophical reflection about the true meaning of human life, whereas "Well-Connected" provides great storytelling and an eerie atmosphere by portraying a couple spending a weekend in the mountains off season and facing a chilling nightmare come true.

"S.F.," a story a bit on the SF side (no pun intended), narrates of a future world where memories are erased from human brain with obvious, unpleasant consequences.

The gentle and nostalgic "They Don't Write'Em Like This Anymore" features two versions of a TV treatment endowed with a Twilight Zone flavour, wherein a man mysteriously finds again the opportunity to browse the pulp magazines of his youth.

Finally the volume offers a reprint of the renowned "The Events at Poroth Farm" a distressing diary reporting a chain of dark events occurring in a farm lost in the middle of nowhere in rural New Jersey. An unsettling novella of possession and evil, the piece provided the basis for the consequent, famous novel The Ceremonies.

Klein's faithful, long-time fans will probably refrain from buying a collection gathering a bunch of excellent stories that by now they know by heart, but readers who in the 80s were still too young to read horror books and magazines will have the precious opportunity to make the acquaintance of a true master of the genre. And I'm sure that they too will start begging for more and waiting... and waiting... and waiting...

Copyright © 2006 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.


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