Sunday, September 16, 2012

Magazine Review: Cemetery Dance #67

I'll structure my review the same way Cemetery Dance: The Magazine of Horror and Suspense organizes its table of contents...


The new issue contains some terrific stories.  Peter Ullian's "Ribbons and Tin" is a gripping hard-boiled tale in which a down and out ex-Army Ranger keeps falling for the same femme fatale.  Blake Crouch's "Unconditional" might be short in terms of word count, but it's long on emotion, capturing a loving father's attempt to connect with his murderous and about-to-be-executed son.  For me, though,
the most entertaining piece was Will Ludwigsen's "Leverage," the darkly humorous story of a morbidly obese and monumentally lazy Norwegian hitman (who won't even lift a finger to type his own narrative).

My only real gripe with the fiction here is that I wish there was more of it.  The magazine cover promises "Chilling Fiction" by Douglas Clegg, Crouch, Ludwigsen, "and many others," but "many" proves to be just three more.  Can we say "hyperbole"?


Lisa Morton's interview with Al Sarrantonio delivers exciting news for fans of the author's Orangefield cycle: a new story is on its way.  For a "feature review," Hang Wagner's discussion of Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury is surprisingly brief in its discussion of the anthology's entries and how they riff on/pay homage to the master storyteller.  Wagner also seems to damn the book with some faint praise:
While some tales are more successful than others, they all exhibit a certain degree of enthusiasm, and a desire to please the man who inspired them, at a minimum successfully fulfilling the editors' (Bradbury biographer Sam Weller and writer/teacher Mort Castle) stated goal of providing stories that "through image, theme, or concept are either ever-so-obviously, or ever-so-subtly, 'Bradbury informed.'"
 The issue's supreme Feature is Neil Gaiman's "The King and I," an anecdotal essay liberally sprinkled with quotes from Stephen King.  King addresses such topics as his daily writing routine and his persistent labeling as a horror writer, and reveals his plans to delete a certain "character" from the next draft (wait, next draft?) of the Dark Tower series.  Perhaps most noteworthy of all are King's comments on his son, author Joe Hill.


As usual, Michael Marano's genre-film reviews brim with acerbic wit.  My favorite quote from this issue's edition of "Mediadrome" is drawn from Marano's rant on the various shortcomings of The Thing prequel: "I could mention the incompetent editing that makes old episodes of TJ Hooker look as finely crafted as the climax of The Wild Bunch."

Two other standout columns in the issue are written by Don D'Auria and Mark Seiber.  The former cleverly employs the Beatles' song "Paperback Writer" as part of a lesson on what and what not to do when submitting a cover letter to a fiction editor.  The piece is required reading for aspiring novelists, as is Seiber's for all horror lovers.  The recent divorcé recounts his foray into the world of online dating and his subsequent trials of revealing his passion for the horror genre to his dates ("At some point I have to bring up the H-word.  I'm not talking about Herpes.  I'm talking about Horror.  I sometimes think I'd have better luck with a sexually transmitted disease.").

Overall, CD#67 is a thoroughly enjoyable issue.  And best of all, it follows close on the heels of #66 (the news and reviews are growing steadily less outdated with the return to a more regular publication schedule).  Here's hoping we'll be treated to the next edition of Cemetery Dance just in time for Halloween.

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