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In for a Penny

Ratings:
175 pages3 hours

Summary

This mesmerising collection from World Fantasy Award-winner James P. Blaylock offers seven brilliant excursions into one of the most idiosyncratic imaginations of our time. Highlighted by the acclaimed novella, "The Trismegistus Club" - a brilliant riff on the antiquarian ghost story - In for a Penny goes from strength to strength, taking us deep into the heart of a quirky, deeply engaging fictional world that no one but Blaylock could have created.

Other high points include "Home Before Dark," which chronicles one man's first few hours in the afterlife. Its thematic companion, "Small Houses," recounts an aging widower's last few hours on earth. Both stories constitute deeply felt, lovingly detailed farewells to the things and places of this world.

In "The other Side," a minor precognitive episode leads the hero to an obsessive fascination with the hidden mysteries of the universe. In "His Own Back Yard," a story worthy of the great Jack Finney, a middle-aged man finds himself stranded in the haunted territory of his childhood. The blackly funny "War of the Worlds" uses a bowling ball and the imminent end of Life As We Know It to illuminate the fault lines in a modern marriage. Finally, in the wonderfully imagined title story, the single-minded pursuit of treasure - of something for nothing - leads Blaylock's protagonist to a harrowing confrontation with his own worst self.

Startling, funny, eccentric, and often unexpectedly moving, the Blaylockian worldview shines forth with undiminished vigor in this marvellous collection, which shows us ourselves - and the world around us - from a wholly unique perspective.

REVIEWS
from Publishers Weekly
"Simply, almost artlessly written, the six fantasy stories in this slim collection from Blaylock (Thirteen Phantasms), set in the gentle, loving territory of his personal California world, verge on the sentimental but never slip into the banal. In the brief "Home Before Dark," the tale's hero gets an unusual glimpse of heaven. In the nostalgic "His Own Back Yard," Alan revisits his old childhood home ("The abandoned house was boarded up, its chimney fallen, the white paint on the clapboards weathered to the color of an old ghost") and has the satisfaction of meeting a vision of his young father and discussing the past. "Small Houses" is a poignant reverie on age and shared love in which Johnson builds his own burial casket, to his wife's dismay. "The War of the Worlds" focuses on some suburbanites who believe that a flying saucer has landed in their midst, but the real war is the unexpressed one between husband and wife. In the humorous "The Other Side," the premonition-prone protagonist winds up in a support group for the paranormally inclined. In the title story, a tale with a moral and the best of the lot, George Mason buys a worn purse at a garage sale with a penny he finds in the purse, with unexpected consequences. The dignified, understated jacket art of an old man in a library nicely suggests the mood of the stories."

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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