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Poe's Children
Cover of Poe's Children
Poe's Children
The New Horror: An Anthology
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A Washington Post Best Book of the Year
Peter Straub—bestselling author and 8-time Bram Stoker Award winner—has gathered here 24 bone-chilling, nail-biting, frightfully imaginative stories that represent the best of contemporary horror writing.
Dan Chaon "The Bees"
Elizabeth Hand "Cleopatra Brimstone"
Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem "The Man on the Ceiling"
M. John Harrison "The Great God Plan"
Ramsey Campbell "The Voice of the Beach"
Brian Evenson "Body"
Kelly Link "Louise's Ghost"
Jonathan Carroll "The Sadness of Detail"
M. Rickert "Leda"
Thomas Tessier "In Praise of Folly"
David J. Schow "Plot Twist"
Glen Hirshberg "The Two Sams"
Thomas Ligotti "Notes on the Writing of Horror: A Story"
Benjamin Percy "Unearthed"
Bradford Morrow "Gardener of Heart"
Peter Straub "Little Red's Tango"
Stephen King "The Ballad of a Flexible Bullet"
Joe Hill "20th Century Ghost"
Ellen Klages "The Green Glass Sea"
Tia V. Travis "The Kiss"
Graham Joyce "Black Dust"
Neil Gaiman "October in the Chair"
John Crowley "Missolonghi 1824"
Rosalind Palermo Stevenson "Insect Dreams"
A Washington Post Best Book of the Year
Peter Straub—bestselling author and 8-time Bram Stoker Award winner—has gathered here 24 bone-chilling, nail-biting, frightfully imaginative stories that represent the best of contemporary horror writing.
Dan Chaon "The Bees"
Elizabeth Hand "Cleopatra Brimstone"
Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem "The Man on the Ceiling"
M. John Harrison "The Great God Plan"
Ramsey Campbell "The Voice of the Beach"
Brian Evenson "Body"
Kelly Link "Louise's Ghost"
Jonathan Carroll "The Sadness of Detail"
M. Rickert "Leda"
Thomas Tessier "In Praise of Folly"
David J. Schow "Plot Twist"
Glen Hirshberg "The Two Sams"
Thomas Ligotti "Notes on the Writing of Horror: A Story"
Benjamin Percy "Unearthed"
Bradford Morrow "Gardener of Heart"
Peter Straub "Little Red's Tango"
Stephen King "The Ballad of a Flexible Bullet"
Joe Hill "20th Century Ghost"
Ellen Klages "The Green Glass Sea"
Tia V. Travis "The Kiss"
Graham Joyce "Black Dust"
Neil Gaiman "October in the Chair"
John Crowley "Missolonghi 1824"
Rosalind Palermo Stevenson "Insect Dreams"
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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    The Bees

    Dan Chaon

    Gene's son Frankie wakes up screaming. It has become frequent, two or three times a week, at random times: midnight—

    3 a.m.—five in the morning. Here is a high, empty wail that severs Gene from his unconsciousness like sharp teeth. It is the worst sound that Gene can imagine, the sound of a young child dying violently—falling from a building, or caught in some machinery that is tearing an arm off, or being mauled by a predatory animal. No matter how many times he hears it he jolts up with such images playing in his mind, and he always runs, thumping into the child's bedroom to find Frankie sitting up in bed, his eyes closed, his mouth open in an oval like a Christmas caroler. Frankie appears to be in a kind of peaceful trance, and if someone took a picture of him he would look like he was waiting to receive a spoonful of ice cream, rather than emitting that horrific sound.

    "Frankie!" Gene will shout, and claps his hands hard in the child's face. The clapping works well. At this, the scream always stops abruptly, and Frankie opens his eyes, blinking at Gene with vague awareness before settling back down into his pillow, nuzzling a little before growing still. He is sound asleep, he is always sound asleep, though even after months Gene can't help leaning down and pressing his ear to the child's chest, to make sure he's still breathing, his heart is still going. It always is.

    There is no explanation that they can find. In the morning, the child doesn't remember anything, and on the few occasions that they have managed to wake him in the midst of one of his screaming attacks, he is merely sleepy and irritable. Once, Gene's wife, Karen, shook him and shook him, until finally he opened his eyes, groggily. "Honey?" she said. "Honey? Did you have a bad dream?" But Frankie only moaned a little. "No," he said, puzzled and unhappy at being awakened, but nothing more.

    They can find no pattern to it. It can happen any day of the week, any time of the night. It doesn't seem to be associated with diet, or with his activities during the day, and it doesn't stem, as far as they can tell, from any sort of psychological unease. During the day, he seems perfectly normal and happy.

    They have taken him several times to the pediatrician, but the doctor seems to have little of use to say. There is nothing wrong with the child physically, Dr. Banerjee says. She advises that such things were not uncommon for children of Frankie's age group—he is five—and that more often than not, the disturbance simply passes away.

    "He hasn't experienced any kind of emotional trauma, has he?" the doctor says. "Nothing out of the ordinary at home?"

    "No, no," they both murmur, together. They shake their heads, and Dr. Banerjee shrugs. "Parents," she says. "It's probably nothing to worry about." She gives them a brief smile. "As difficult as it is, I'd say that you may just have to weather this out."

    But the doctor has never heard those screams. In the mornings after the "nightmares," as Karen calls them, Gene feels unnerved, edgy. He works as a driver for the United Parcel Service, and as he moves through the day after a screaming attack, there is a barely perceptible hum at the edge of his hearing, an intent, deliberate static sliding along behind him as he wanders through streets and streets in his van. He stops along the side of the road and listens. The shadows of summer leaves tremble murmurously against the windshield, and cars are accelerating on a nearby road. In the treetops, a cicada makes its trembly, pressure-cooker...

About the Author-
  • PETER STRAUB is the author of seventeen novels, including Ghost Story and Koko, as well as two collaborations with Stephen King. Winner of eight Bram Stoker Awards, two International Horror Guild Awards, two World Fantasy Awards, and both a Lifetime Achievement Award and election as a Grand Master from the Horror Writers Association, he lives in New York City.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 8, 2008
    Anyone concerned about the future of horror will find plenty of reassurance in this outstanding reprint anthology showcasing short fiction by today's best writers in the genre. Straub (The Throat
    ) skillfully varies tempo and style, mixing stories of psychological terror with more traditional ghostly tales. Thomas Tessier puts a fresh spin on the empty old house theme in the memorable “In Praise of Folly,” in which the lonely protagonist pursues his fascination with bizarre structures to the Adirondacks. Tessier subtly raises chills even as the tale proceeds to its inevitable and dark conclusion. Another winner is Dan Chaon's “The Bees,” a powerful account of a man haunted by mistakes of the past. Ramsey Campbell's terrifying “The Voice of the Beach” echoes Algernon Blackwood's classic “The Willows,” with its account of two friends' fateful encounter with a remote beach that may be an entry point to another dimension. Aimed at a general audience, this volume also includes works by Stephen King, Elizabeth Hand, Kelly Link and Joe Hill.

  • Library Journal

    September 15, 2008
    With an introduction by the much honored Straub ("Ghost Story"), this collection can be dubbed New Wave horror, considering that most of its 24 stories were published fairly recently and it includes contributions by celebrity horror writers. The tales mostly eschew buckets of blood, instead employing mood and suggestion in the manner of Edgar Allan Poe. "Little Red's Tango," Straub's lengthy quasigospel of a record-collecting obsessive, complete with beatitudes and a seductive demon, ably represents the editor's definition of New Wave horror. All the stories honor Poe, like the moody, contagious delusions of Stephen King's "The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet." The genre can be literary, as exemplified by Tia V. Travis's vengeful "The Kiss," Thomas Tessier's surprising "In Praise of Folly," and, probably the most demonstrably Poe-like, Ramsey Campbell's "The Voice of the Beach," featuring a neurasthenic narrator, suffocating suggestibility, and nearly palpable imagery. Brian Evenson's creepy "Body" and Dan Chaon's touching "The Bees" culminate in the horror of bad deeds catching up. The other stories included are without exception excellent. Recommended for all libraries.Jonathan Pearce, California State Univ.-Stanislaus, Stockton

    Copyright 2008 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The Washington Post

    "Revelatory. . . . A remarkably consistent, frequently unsettling book."

  • Time "Straub is uniquely qualified to hold forth on what makes a good horror story. . . . [He] collects the best scary short stories out there."
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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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The New Horror: An Anthology
Peter Straub
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