May 13, 2014

The New Black: An Anthology

Good morning, and happiest of happy book birthdays to my friend and colleague, Richard Thomas, on the release of The New Black, a short story anthology he edited and released through Dark House Press!!

You guys. I'm really excited about this book. I've had an advance copy on my Kindle for a while now, and it's....amazing. So good. Chock full of writers I admire, some of whom I'm lucky enough to know. The stories all fall under the loose category of "neo noir," or, "new black." They're dark. They're heady. They're they kind of stories that will reach inside, yank out your heart like Mola-Ram, and then they'll stomp all over it.

They're that good. 

Noir heavyweights like Stephen Graham Jones and Craig Clevenger grace the pages of The New Black. So do newcomers like Rebecca Jones-Howe, whose writing is so damn fresh and enticing and heartbreaking you'll regret reading her....for ten minutes, before you come back for more. If you want to hear more about each of the authors included in the anthology, read Richard Thomas's intro: he's grown to know all his writers. He admires and respects them, and he's not afraid to tell you why. 

That's the kind of editor Thomas is. 

I'm still reading my way through this anthology. I have to take my time with it. I have to take breaks, to come up for air. I have to come back into the light from time to time.

Thomas does a fabulous job arranging the stories so each has its moment to shine, framed by other tales so different and yet so intrinsically alike it's hard to imagine one without the other.  It's the kind of anthology that begs to be enjoyed, to be read with a glass of dark red wine and a bit of quiet jazz in the background. Or maybe, for some stories, you'll want to switch to 80s punk, or the theme music to Halloween. 

It's that kind of anthology. You don't want to read it all in one sitting. You want these stories to stick with you for as long as possible. You want to hope, for as long as possible, that everything will come out okay in the end.

But I'll give you a hint: the anthology isn't called The New Black for no reason. Most of the time, things won't turn out okay in the end.

Perhaps the Forward by award-winning writer Laird Barron says it best: "Rules are out the window, the physics of morality, ethics, and fair play smashed to powder and in the wind. Reality is on a permanent vacation. The universe is more about guidelines in sand, passwords that are randomly overwritten, splinter cells and half-enunciated shibboleths." 

That's the kind of book this is.

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