Jack Ketchum (nom de plume of Dallas Mayr) is known for choosing disturbing topics, as in the subversive, even shocking, novel Off Season and the violently nasty The Girl Next Door. His penchant for in-your-face horror is tempered, though, by the underlying moral tone in his fiction. |
The Exit at Toledo Blade Boulevard contains 12 short stories (six original to this volume) and a personal essay about the author's encounter with Henry Miller. "The Rifle," the best in the bunch, is a heartbreaking, provocative fable about a gun in the hands of a kid gone bad. It would serve well as a reading assignment for a group discussing the problem of shootings by school children. The other stories include one reminiscent of "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, one about random violence on a freeway, three tales in which a villain gets his or her comeuppance, a story about snake phobia, a fantasy fable set in the wintry north, and others that use paranoia, cynicism, and humor in different combinations. (Some readers may find the humor a bit lame.) Also included is a well-crafted Romero-zombie story that was apparently intended for a Skipp-and-Spector Book of the Dead anthology that never materialized.
The essay, "Henry Miller and the Push," is a brilliant finale. In the early 1980s Ketchum (Dallas Mayr) found himself in the position of representing Henry Miller for a New York literary agency. His description of the poignant encounter between the young and aspiring writer and the 85-year-old Miller is a real treat.
This edition includes several black-and-white illustrations and two beautiful color illustrations on the front and back of the dust jacket by horror artist Alan M. Clark. The introduction is by Richard Laymon and all the stories have short blurbs by Ketchum.
Source: Fiona Webster, Amazon.com.