Chicago author Brendan Detzner has a collection of short stories coming out in August and I managed to get one of the advanced "zero edition" copies two months early. Right place, right time (specifically, Top Shelf Books, June open mic night). The collection is called Scarce Resources and it's one of the few collections I've read where the term Weird Stories is correctly applied.
Too often, writers seem to feel uncomfortable leaving elements of their work unexplained. Their compulsion to explain every event, opening every door and shining a light on all the nightmares, ruin what could otherwise have been some fine stories. Mr. Detzner shows an admirable resistance to this urge, revealing just enough in these strange fantasies to intrigue without ruining the mood with full disclosure.
It's like driving past a traffic accident. You see enough to realize something bad has happened. You can infer some details from glimpsing the wreckage. But soon you've driven past it. You've learned all you're going to learn about that story. You're compelled to go back and find out more; at the same time knowing it's probably for the best you don't have all the gory details.
Not to say that there are no gory details to be found in this collection. But just as often, there are stories that maintain an extremely brutal tone without needing to offer lengthy descriptions of violence. The actions of violent men are not half as horrifying as the reasons they give for committing them.
Like I said, I got hold of an advanced copy; but it was far from being the only one. If you want to own one of the zero-edition copies for yourself, check out the Kickstarter page that's been set up to provide promotional funds for the project. For ten dollars, you can get a signed copy of the book. If you're not sure these are the stories for you, there's a video of the author reading the first story in the collection, "The Black Plague". You can find links to four more of his short stories on his web-site, Brendan Detzner Online.
I've been truly fortunate to meet a number of excellent writers in Chicago (most of whom will probably find it odd that I refer to them by their last names on my blog posts). If you've seen me reading at an open mic event, chances are that you've also already heard some of Brendan Detzner's work as well. If you haven't, this collection is a wonderful introduction and well worth the money. Check it out.
Things I've written since last post: first draft of Footprints and first draft of The Haircut