Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Devil Delivered and Other Tales by Steven Erikson, reviewed by BL Kennedy

The Devil Delivered and Other Tales
Steven Erikson
Tom Doherty Associates
New York, NY
336 pgs
ISBN: 978-0-7653-3003-1

Larger shadows walk with the coyote, elder cousin ghosts panting the breath of ice.

He watches them, wonder who will speak first. The coyote seems a likely candidate with its nose lifted and testing the air. Human scents riding the wind, now fading slipping beneath the overwhelming stench of sunbaked meat, its touch on canine olfactory nerves an underscored sigh beneath the old scream of death.

The coyote pads down the slope, winding a path round the dusty sage, pauses every now and then to read the breeze, cock its ears in search of wrong sounds, scanning the low bluffs on the valley’s other side, then continues its descent.

This collection of novellas took me totally by surprise. I had never heard of the author before, I had not previously read any of his writings, but I fell in love with this book. Stephen Erikson has a gift for descriptive narrative, which in my mind is on par with Ray Carver. Now that is saying a fucking lot, isn’t it?

The author has a way of telling a story that totally catches you off guard. I can’t help to think of some of my favorite short story writers, like Jorge Borges, or Harlan Ellison, or the great legend himself, Ray Bradbury. Oh, you must be thinking, he must be a science fiction writer! To which, I will respond ‘you are dead on wrong’.

 Stephen Erikson is simply a writer of clear, diverse, passionate, unique creative prose. You cannot help but to fall in love with the stories in this collection. So look, bottom line is this, it’s a damn good book, and if you have the opportunity to come across at a bookstore or online, I would say snatch it up. 

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