John Collier's edgy, sardonic tales are works of rare wit, curious insight, and scary implication. They stand out as one of the pinnacles in the critically neglected but perennially popular tradition of weird writing that includes E.T.A. Hoffmann and Charles Dickens as well as more recent masters like Jorge Luis Borges and Roald Dahl. With a cast of characters that ranges from man-eating flora to disgruntled devils and suburban salarymen (not that it's always easy to tell one from another), Collier's dazzling stories explore the implacable logic of lunacy, revealing a surreal landscape whose unstable surface is depth-charged with surprise.
About the Author
John Collier (1901-1980) was born in Britain, but spent much of his life in the U.S., where he wrote screenplays for Hollywood (The African Queen, Sylvia Scarlet, and I Am a Camera among them) and short stories for The New Yorker and other magazines. He was also a poet, editor, and reviewer.
In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury, who died on June 5, 2011 at the age of 91, inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He wrote the screen play for John Huston's classic film adaptation of Moby Dick, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, among many honors.
Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, "Live forever!" Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."
Intense like poems, compressed like epigrams, short stories have always inclined to the lyrical and biting. No story writer ever bit more sharply or wrote more gracefully than John Collier. When I first encountered his work, twenty-five years ago, I was shocked by his plots and delighted by his cruelty; now I take my delight in the dark silky stuff of his prose style, and the shock lies in his faultless execution and in his mastery of craft. If you don’t know his work, you owe yourself the pleasure—the indispensable pleasure—of Collier.
— Michael Chabon
Here is a world of moonshine and madness, of suburbia invaded by fiends and angels, of magic spells, grotesque melodrama and lunatic farce, surprising, ludicrous, terrifying.
— The New York Times
In this collection, Collier uses clever, evocative prose to tell dozens of brief tales that vault off at peculiar, fantastical angles with often startlingly—and amusingly—cruel conclusions….At his best it is a mystery how he fell from attention. Erased from history for half a century like a character in one of his stories, Collier deserves rediscovery.
— Rob Haynes, Time Out (London)
Preponderantly from the New Yorker, these haunted lullabies and sanguine whimsies which range from the civilized horror of Saki to extravagant parody, display an affectionate familiarity with evil, sharpen drama with irony.
— Kirkus Reviews