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Compositions for the Young and Old
Paul G. Tremblay
House of Dominion, 209 pages

David Ho
Compositions for Young and Old
Paul G. Tremblay
Paul G. Tremblay has sold over 50 short stories to such anthologies as Razor, The Book of Final Flesh, Brainbox II, Punktown: Third Eye. He won the 2002 Chiaroscuro/Leisure short story contest and soon after became fiction editor at Chizine. He has earned a bachelor's and master's degree in Mathematics. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, son and Rascal the dog.

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A review by Georges T. Dodds

Compositions for Young and Old is a wide-ranging collection of weird to noir tales, told through the voices of the young and the old, to the old and the young, and sometimes those somewhere nebulously in between. Many of the tales, in particularly "The Jar," and "The Laughing Man Meets Little Cat" have a somewhat Bradburyesque feel, others, like "Annabel Lee" are much more in the tradition of Gothic ghost stories, and yet others like "City Pier" and "Dole as Ribbit" partake of noir and cyber-punk. The locales range from a frozen river to an 1900 era hotel in Toledo, the invited characters from Ty Cobb to Mark Twain, the others from a snoopy granddaughter to an old man who heals the unhappy.

What strikes one with Paul G. Tremblay's writing is that he understands and ably portrays the emotional baggage of people, be they good or bad, happy or sad, vengeful or repentant. He also understands the relationship of storyteller to listener, both with the context of his stories and in the great context of the book itself. A number of stories are about those who sacrifice themselves to heal others, an old man in "The Laughing Man Meets Little Cat," a fortune-teller with a Boston-brahmin accent in "Hurt," a gay lover in "Cold." Others are about the obsolescent ("Walls"), those at the end of their tether ("With More Than Eyes"), and those at the end of their existence ("Colonel Evans' Last Mission").

Some of the tales are also quite humorous, Mark Twain brought back to life by voodoo in order to write another novel, Ty Cobb sidelined by tonsilitis, and "4'33" a jazz composition hailed as brilliant, but rather empty of substance. Others are more grisly, speaking of death, cannabalism and worse things yet. Still, while the tales' quality rests much more in their characters than in their atmosphere or surroundings, and bear occasional tangents that seem of limited relevance, Tremblay's tales, by their diversity and appeal to emotions in us all are a pleasure to read and to recommend to others.


  • Introduction by Jeffrey Thomas
  • Perfect
  • Role Models
  • The Pond
  • Reaching
  • Hurt
  • City Pier
  • Dole as Ribbit
  • The Harlequin and the Train
  • Cold
  • The Stairs
  • With More Than Eyes
  • Perception
  • Annabel Leigh
  • Walls
  • 4'33
  • Hackin'at the Peach
  • So Many Things Left Out
  • The Laughing Man Meets Little Cat
  • The Jar
  • Colonel Evans' Last Mission

Copyright © 2004 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.

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