I received an email this morning from the Tom Moran at Sideshow Press confirming the trade paperback version of POSTCARDS FROM PURGATORY will be released a month from today. The collection features sixteen stories, several of which are originals, and an introduction by Thomas Tessier.
Yeah, that Thomas Tessier.
I've met enough of the writers I've admired over the years so that I don't have that "idol" thing going on anymore. Well, except for a select few, and Tessier is definitely in that few. I'm humbled by the talent of somebody who could write classics like PHANTOM, FOG HEART and RAPTURE (although I'm even more partial to his short stories - I REMEMBER ME is freaking brilliant). But the truth is, he's about the nicest man you could ever meet and an all-round class act.
And the awesome introduction he's provided doesn't hurt:
Here is a box of very dark and disturbing treats for you, and if you're wise, you'll sample them slowly, savoring each one fully and then perhaps taking a short walk before settling in again to read the next. Because, you may well find it very tempting to gobble them all down in a rush – and believe me, that's not a good idea.
A good idea would be to have a fine sipping whisky at hand.
Sam W. Anderson is a writer who can perform powerfully rough surgery on the reader's psyche, casually obliterating expectations and defying anyone to doubt what he is saying. You won't.
There may be moments when you will think, He just can't do that, it isn't right. Oh yes he can, oh yes it is.
He is superb at recognizing the countless invisible twists of fate that shadow our daily lives, threatening to blindside us at any moment and throw our everyday reality into chaos. Chaos is a feeble word, though, for what some of the characters here experience when Sam delivers the twist.
Speaking of shadows, there's one in here that is more than just chilling. And a child playing harmlessly in a sandbox, it would seem. And some lizards who have been around the block a few times. And a doctor who makes a specialty of lice.
And my own favorite one here, the fever dream “Amongst the Wailing Winds,” in which the nightmare inside and the nightmare outside intersect perfectly. It is deeply felt, and remorseless.
These are horror stories, of course, front-loaded with dread, pain and terror. But as is so often the case with horror literature, merely saying that doesn't tell the half of it. Plenty of writers can produce the shocks and gore, and some of them even think that's all there is to it. Sam W. Anderson can do all of that, and better. He can pull us inside the skin and hearts and minds of his characters, and make us understand, instinctively, how they feel and why they do what they do. Thereby, gets inside our skin too. For some of us, this is what all good writing – and reading -- is about.
There is something deeply evocative about the characters and the western settings in these stories, remorseless in their exploration of the terminal underside of American life -- the vast, inhospitable geography, and the absurd, doomed activities of certain inhabitants -- that reminds me of the profoundly sad, disturbing plays and short stories of Sam Shepard. In this case, Sam W. Anderson uses a rather different literary lens, but he is pulling us into the very same dream -- and nightmare.
It's always a pleasure to celebrate the arrival of a gifted new writer on the scene, and I'm particularly happy to introduce you to these stories by Sam W. Anderson. Now, take a sip, turn the next page and – good luck.
5 days ago