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   Black Evening, by David Morrell  
  Collection, first publication in 1998
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      David Morrell is best known for testosterone-fueled thrillers like Extreme Denial and First Blood (whose excellent movie version, reissued on DVD in 1999, stars Sylvester Stallone as Rambo). But Morrell has also penned many frightfully scary short stories. In Black Evening, he presents 16 of his favorites, each with a fascinating introduction explaining what provoked him to write it.

    "The Dripping" (1971) came to the author in a dream that most would regard as a nightmare. In this eerie little number, a father faces his worst fear when his family goes missing. Morrell suffered his own family tragedy in January of 1987, when his son Matt was diagnosed with bone cancer. "Orange Is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity" (the Horror Writers Association's best novella of 1988) was written shortly before Matt's death. Writing about a mad painter kept Morrell sane: "The made-up horror was paradoxically providing a barrier from real-life horror." But after Matt's death, Morrell was besieged with panic attacks, and could do nothing but "stare at the ceiling" for three years. A harrowing story about lost children and a long buried family secret, "The Beautiful Uncut Hair of Graves" (another HWA award-winner) signified Morrell's return to short fiction. The title is taken from Walt Whitman's poem about death and children; John Rambo's name is a pun on Arthur Rimbaud. Morrell is a genre writer with a poet's soul.

    And whether he's writing stories of subtle psychological terror or conjuring up scenarios of pure horror, Morrell never fails to scare the bejesus out of us.

    Source: Naomi Gesinger,

      Related theme(s)  
  • Horror - Terror

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