Monday, January 9, 2017
All That Withers - by John Palisano - John's first collection - Many of the stories have a Lovecraftian vibe
Three of the stories in this collection have been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, with one taking home the prize in 2016. That story is the first in this collection of weird and wonderful tales from John Palisano.
The twenty-three stories in All That Withers border on the fantastical. Many have a Lovecraftian feel, although the author has created his own mythos and otherverse. This collection is anything but ordinary.
Happy Joe's Rest Stop - This story of a rest stop from hell won the Bram Stoker Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. He heard screams. Some sounded human. Some sounded formerly human. Some sounded like they were from hell. What a great way to kick off the collection.
Splinterette - Lost in a whiteout just yards from his property, a man experiences something quite unbelievable.
The Geminis - There's love and then there's love. A story of love and music with a Lovecraftian vibe.
Available Light - A story of Walter and his "brother," both affected with Xeroderma pigmentosum.
Long Walk Home - My favorite story so far. A tragic love set in an apocalyptic Jersey shore community. A wonderfully complete tale.
My Darkness Travels On Sunshine - An aspiring filmmaker with herself as the subject of a documentary takes a turn toward the unknown. There's a single sentence in this story that really stood out for me. "Come back when you're ready to talk about the darkness, sunshine." I just loved the dichotomy between darkness and sunshine.
The Haven - I can't even begin to describe this story, so I'm not even going to try.
To the Stars That Fooled You - Hands down, my favorite in this collection. The scene between Alex and Phil in the record store in Greenwich Village alone is work the price of the book and then the scene with Sid and Nancy just sends it into the stratosphere.
Mother You Can Watch - A quick stop at the Bates Motel.
Outlaws of Hill Country - Another wonderful tale with a killer opening line. The night before Halloween, the Long Fellow sucked Jenny Lou Harrison's soul right out through her fingers.
Welcome to the Jungle - It's tough being a struggling actress in Hollywood.
Wings for Wheels - Asbury Park, Thunder Road, an up-and-coming musician. Is this ringing any bells? Great story.
Secret Sea - Some things are washing ashore on the beach outside of the Harpoon House.
Eternal Valley - A rather strange tale of something that lurks at the mouth of the Wabash river.
The Curious Banks of the Wabash River - There's definitely something about the Wabash river.
The Tennatrick - What if the California wildfires weren't being caused by drought or arson? "What is that thing?" Jen said. "It's huge," Brian said. The animal reached the bottom and stood a few car lengths away. A long sectioned head rose ten-feet high. Seven eyes glistened. Some were red, some were blue, while others were black.
Vampiro - A new look for the California border patrol.
X is for Xyx - A breakup leads to an attempted suicide and that's when things get weird.
Sunset Beach - A wonderful day at the beach turns dark with monsters from the deep.
I Know This World - A very personal kind of horror.
Forever - A wonderful story of life after death from a pet's point of view.
Gaia Ungaia - It's a thin line between bad dreams and reality.
Perrollo's Ladder - Prior to reading this story, I had never heard of criaturas. I suggest looking them up on Google images. These are the things nightmares are made of.
All in all, All That Withers is a solid collection. If you're ready for something different, you're ready for John Palisano. Definitely recommended.
All That Withers is currently available as a paperback from Cycatrix Press.
From the author's bio - John Palisano's nonfiction has appeared in Fangoria and Dark Discoveries magazines. In addition to his short stories, he had a pair of books with Samhain Publishing, Dust of the Dead and Ghost Heart. His novel Nerves was published through Bad Moon Books. Night of 1,000 Beasts is coming soon.