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Holy crap This is maybe only the second book I ever read that was too intense, too brutal, that I had to stop partway through it and read something else for awhile before picking it back up.Stephen Graham Jones writes just brilliant, brutal stories here that, though obviously not true, all feel true, with the undeniable credibility of a good urban legend Even the one about a werewolf fighting a killer whale Even that one.They re harsh, disturbing stories, and some of the only stories to ever Holy crap This is maybe only the second book I ever read that was too intense, too brutal, that I had to stop partway through it and read something else for awhile before picking it back up.Stephen Graham Jones writes just brilliant, brutal stories here that, though obviously not true, all feel true, with the undeniable credibility of a good urban legend Even the one about a werewolf fighting a killer whale Even that one.They re harsh, disturbing stories, and some of the only stories to ever actually frighten me, to make me uncomfortable I d liken them to a sucker punch, but they feel too inevitable to be that, like a blow that you should have seen coming, if only you d been paying better attention.This one would ve gotten five stars, except that it was so intense that it made it a little bit less pleasant to read This review was originally published at The Nervous Breakdown The Ones That Got Away Prime Books tiptoes into the darkness, luring us deep into the woods, up into crawlspaces, and to distant islands, where the people, the sacrifices, the losses are our own, our universal fears come to life You d think that once he surprised me, once Dr Jones pulled that old trick where you watch the left hand while the right hand does something else that I d be prepared formisdirection, watching the wo This review was originally published at The Nervous Breakdown The Ones That Got Away Prime Books tiptoes into the darkness, luring us deep into the woods, up into crawlspaces, and to distant islands, where the people, the sacrifices, the losses are our own, our universal fears come to life You d think that once he surprised me, once Dr Jones pulled that old trick where you watch the left hand while the right hand does something else that I d be prepared formisdirection, watching the wolf when it was always going to be the dolphin But it s all there, it s always right there, a tingling sensation that runs up your spine, an itch where it settles, burrowing in, a heat up your neck flushing with realization It isn t misdirection It s an adding up of information, the sum larger than the parts It s coming to your own conclusion before the story ends, whispering to yourself that it can t be what you think it is Please don t let him go there It s not a trick, or a twist, and no God as machine descends from the sky It s what you knew all along, it s what you feared could be true, it s a stiff body standing in the corner of a musty basement, the camera on a tripod tipping over, and the evil revealing itself And it s how the everyday people in these tales deal with these revelations when they come home to roost.From the very first story, there is no hesitation, no easing into these tales, these dark fables This is no mistake, the way this collection of short stories starts What could beinnocent than a bunny rabbit in the snow A father and son lost in the woods, surely there will be an escape, a rescue, and everything will be fine in the end But that s all relative, isn t it The surprises start with this story, Father, Son, Holy Rabbit, and from the sentence, something isn t quite right By the third day they were eating snow Years later it would come to the boy again, rush up to him at a job interview his father spitting out pieces of seed or pine needle into his hand Whatever had been in the snow The boy had looked at the brown flecks in his father s palm, then up to his father, who finally nodded, put them back in his mouth, turned his face away to swallow One of the many things that Stephen Graham Jones does well is mix the reality of nature, of life, with the elusive presence of the horrific, the fantastic, the mythic The next day, no helicopters came for them, no men on horseback, following dogs, no skiers poling their way home For a few hours around what should have been lunch, the sun shone down, but all that did was make their dry spot under the tree wet Then the wind started again Where s that stick the boy asked.The father narrowed his eyes as if he hadn t thought of that Your rabbit, he said after a few minutes.The boy nodded, said, almost to himself, It ll come back When he looked around to his father, his father was already looking at him Studying him.The rabbit s skin was out in the snow, just past the tree Buried hours ago.The father nodded like this could maybe be true That the rabbit would come back Because they needed it to The rabbit would come back, of course, because they did need it to, but not in any way that I anticipated I guess at endings all the time, as many of us do, and I m pretty good at getting it right But with these stories, I only knew what was coming about half the time And that s no reward either, to know what s coming, hardwired to fear the hidden beast, accidents already set in motion, or the horrible things we as human beings continue to do to each other.Another strength of Stephen Graham Jones is a willingness to build stories on the classic myths of horror and fantasy There are only so many things that go bump in the night It s man versus the machine, nature, the known, the unknown, the monster, the truth, himself There are vampires and zombies and werewolves, of course In Wolf Island he takes the werewolf story and turns it into something else completely Out there in the wild it s eat or be eaten, as you know The bird was like an oversized gull A tern, maybe Definitely not a pelican.After pulling all the feathers out there was hardly any meat.Emma shook her head no about it anyway.Ronald nodded that he understood, and peeled the stringy meat from the bone, had his eyes closed to eat it when Emma stopped him What he said.She took the meat, touching it with as little of her fingertips as possible, and walked to the water line, laid the meat in the wet sand.Within thirty seconds, two large crabs and one smaller one were snipping at the meat Now, she said to Ronald, and he stepped forward, brought his foot down on one of the large crabs.Its claws sliced the air uselessly, and then Ronald drove his bare foot deeper and the crab cracked, died.Emma laughed nervously.Ronald studied her, no real expression on his face He sets us up, as we watch Emma and Ronald search for food on the deserted island Until things start to change Until Ronald changes, or really, stays the same, just revealing himself as somethingbeast than man.Ronald slowly befriends a school of dolphins, seeking to connect, to divide up his loneliness and primal urges into manageable chunks of time But in the end, much like the tale of the scorpion and the frog, his true nature rears its ugly head And as the scorpion stings the frog there are other creatures sitting on the shore, eyeing that scorpion for their own little meal As Vonnegut said, so it goes.When you think maybe you ve got him cornered, all smug that you get where he s coming from, can see it coming now, Stephen Graham Jones morphs into a pair of shallow high school girls, a mixture of Heathers and Carrie, with his stamp of dark humor applied So Perfect is funny in its portrayal of youth always wasted on the young , their language and priorities stilted and full of entitlement It has heat at times, the two young ladies slender and tan, unafraid to use their powers of persuasion And it s haunting how far these two will go to get thin, to stay on top, to remain the queens that they think they are Tammy and Brianne, you ve seen them before And did you see her nametag Don t even start Like I would be using somebody else s credit card, though Please Shh, shh She might be listening Her dad s got to be in prison or something, right To let her work at a register like that You re making excuses for her No I just don t want my car to get keyed And of course, like this Two days later is a Friday Tammy and Brianne are having a tanning contest on Brianne s back porch Her dad, home early from work, is washing the Irish setter The dog s name is Frederick.Because it s funny to her, Tammy keeps arranging her bikini so as to make Brianne s dad have to look somewhere else But this is all in good clean fun and nobody gets hurt Until they do On the other side of the classroom, hiding, is Joy She isn t lifting her head from her desk.Tammy shrugs to Brianne about it and Brianne shrugs back, makes the eeek shape with her mouth.Halfway through class is when it happens, the thing that will spark an investigation that will span four high schools and never once interrogate either Tammy or Brianne, the real killers here.All at once, in the middle of Mr Connors taking up last night s problems, Joy slings her head up from her desk A line of vomit strings down from her lip And there scoming Expect the unexpected In this collection of short stories, Stephen Graham Jones does all of the things that have come to be expected of him, andThere are moments of terror, tension built up over time, an uneasy feeling creeping over you, your gut in knots, hesitating to turn the page There are gestures of kindness and love, loss built on sacrifice, families protecting each other There are histories from childhood that are buried deep, but sometimes not deep enough And there are myths and legends that turn out to be true, awe paired with knowledge turned to fear Be prepared for the nightfall, I m warning you now Laugh if you want to, it s okay Maybe you re one of the lucky ones, your imagination held in check Or maybe you ll stare at the ceiling, listening to the scratching while you try to convince yourself that it s just the squirrels in the attic When the shadows slip across your bedroom walls, it s from a car passing by, for sure Just close your eyes, and drift off to sleep, there s no weight sinking into the bed It s probably just the cat.You do have a cat, don t you NOTE Since this review was written, The Ones That Got Away was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for the best in horror writing and has made the final ballot This collection is close to perfect Original Challenging Spooky Suspenseful Heart wrenching More favorable words SomeMore yet. I m DNFing this at 43%, not because it s bad, but simply because I m not in the mood for it I wanted Scary Dumb Horror and I got Literary Sad Horror I should ve expected it because it s Stephen Graham Jones we re talking about, but oh well.Note to self I might have to create another DNF shelf called I ll Be Back. A few very good stories here, as well some that were going well until they slipped into awkward writing that lost me at the end Rereading was no help for me I see a lot of 5 star reviews so maybe it s me that doesn t quite get it Story collections are like golf shotsif you run into a crap story, the next one could be the redeemer, so it keeps you interested start to finish You run into a stinker of a novel, you re screwed for 300 pages, you know But in reading the latest from Stephen Graham Jones, The Ones That Got Away, I m reminded that it is still possible for a collection make me say, Seriously, this next one cannot be better than this one No way And then delivers again And again And again I wasn t th Story collections are like golf shotsif you run into a crap story, the next one could be the redeemer, so it keeps you interested start to finish You run into a stinker of a novel, you re screwed for 300 pages, you know But in reading the latest from Stephen Graham Jones, The Ones That Got Away, I m reminded that it is still possible for a collection make me say, Seriously, this next one cannot be better than this one No way And then delivers again And again And again I wasn t this giddy or delighted reading a stack of stories since I was 10 years old, mopping up King s Skeleton Crew, crapping my footie pajamas to Survivor Type and The Jaunt Jones slam banged me right out of the box with the very first story, Father, Son, Holy Rabbit, about a stranded father and son who continue to eat a magical rabbit over and over again to stay alive I was thinking about that story for days, and it has all the makings of a lifetimer for me, where I ll be sixty talking about that story to someone, probably my grandkids, who will laugh when I try to explain what a payphone was Bookending the collection is Crawlspace, which, if you think a telepathic infant sounds creepy, wait until the guilt of our narrator s infidelity starts to get the best of him The final page is unsettling.Special thanks to the story Raphael for just existing Wow This one accomplished a rare feat in my reading exploitsthere are two pages that just made me stop and reread them on the spot, then I finished the story, then read the whole thing again.There s another story where the title itself can give you nightmares Two words for you Meat Tree Think about that King called his men s magazine stories that populated Night Shift and Skeleton Crew screamers Well, Jones takes the screamer mentality and deploys it full force, with an ability prod you along with sentences that are sharp enough to cut Twisty and startling, the stories don t finish up in predictable screamer fashion many timesthey just worm their way into you, make themselves at home, and you ll feel like your balance is off for a few days You find yourself wanting a little extra sunshine, maybe a long shower This effect is achieved largely through the use of childhood as a gateway to the horrors within the collection, and the close attention paid to who the horror happens to as opposed to how.The story notes are a treasure trove for anyone interested in fiction, the author, or just loves having insight into these excellent stories Better than that crap bonus material you find DVD s, that s for sure You want me to sit here and gush about every story Just go out there and buy this book Like, now |Free Book ♶ The Ones That Got Away ♏ These thirteen stories are our own lives, inside out A boy s summer romance doesn t end in that good kind of heartbreak, but in blood A girl on a fishing trip makes a friend in the woods who s exactly what she needs, except then that friend follows her back to the city A father hears a voice through his baby monitor that shouldn t be possible, but now he can t stop listening A woman finds out that the shipwreck wasn t the disaster, but who she s shipwrecked with A big brother learns just what he will, and won t, trade for one night of sleep From prison guards making unholy alliances to snake oil men in the Old West doling out justice, these stories carve down into the body of the mind, into our most base fears and certainties, and there s no anesthetic Turn the light on if you want, but that just makes for shadows Holy smokes This was awesome A high recommend for any fans of Stephen King and or House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski This was a collection of short stories by one of my new favorite authors, Stephen Graham Jones.Father, Son, Holy Rabbit A crazy story of a father and son on the run and a miraculous rabbit that provides them salvation but at a steep price Incredibly spooky and sad.Till the Morning Comes A much scarier version of The Boogeyman by Stephen King The Sons of Billy Clay Holy smokes This was awesome A high recommend for any fans of Stephen King and or House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski This was a collection of short stories by one of my new favorite authors, Stephen Graham Jones.Father, Son, Holy Rabbit A crazy story of a father and son on the run and a miraculous rabbit that provides them salvation but at a steep price Incredibly spooky and sad.Till the Morning Comes A much scarier version of The Boogeyman by Stephen King The Sons of Billy Clay Two prison guards talking about a murderous bull Lots of twists and turns Jones stayed two steps ahead of me the whole way So Perfect Two horrible high school hotties alliteration yay get what they deserve andI love how you literally never know what great supernatural elements that Jones will throw into a story.Monsters A summer fling gets complicated Vampires It s complicated by vampires Wolf Island A ship wreak leaves a man and a woman trapped on an island with no supplies and no escapeand that s the least of their problems Jones takes some old tropes, dusts them off, and makes them fresh and new here Great stuff.Teeth A retiring and dying detective has one last case body parts are being left all over town Supremely disturbing and fantastic.Raphael A group of high school outcasts enjoy playing around with the unknown They decide to tie up one of group and thrown her into a lake to see if she s a witch It starts as a joke and takes an insane turn.Captain s Lament A very clever twist on an old urban legend.The Meat Tree Probably my least favorite of the bunch A college drop out has the same name and looks like a boy who disappeared several years before the drop out was even born He meets a girl who has her own messed up history regarding a childhood disappearance A little too weird for its own good.The Ones Who Got Away Great, short, gut punch of a story A couple of thugs are supposed to rough someone up and get the wrong address Boy, is it ever the wrong address One minor quibble with either the title of the book or this story Both should either be The Ones Who Got Away or The Ones That Got Away Stay consistent people Crawlspace Dude sleeps with his best friend s wife Oh, and his best friend and the best friend s son may be psychic You just know this one s not going to end wellThis was a fantastic anthology from an author I d never read before The only downside is is that the book is pretty difficult to track down But if you want some great scares and fantastic prose, look no further I m going to track down as much of this guys stuff as I can Visceral and heart wrenching without pulling any punches for the horror Sure, there were a couple endings that might have seemed a little vague, but theI think about it theI like it Not everything has to be wrapped up tight to be effective Do whatever you can to get your hands on this book because these stories worm into your brain Raphael is easily one of the best short stories I ve read in years, regardless of genre. I ve been hearing good things about Stephen Graham Jones for a while, but this is the first of his books I ve actually bought and read It won t be my last.I ve been reading for over fifty years Taught myself to read at five Green Eggs Ham, of course For reasons you might not expect, I became a bookworm I read EVERYTHING Even when I was homeless squatting in a burned out basement, I still had a stack of books to read by candle light A eductaed myself on a combination of American Pulp an I ve been hearing good things about Stephen Graham Jones for a while, but this is the first of his books I ve actually bought and read It won t be my last.I ve been reading for over fifty years Taught myself to read at five Green Eggs Ham, of course For reasons you might not expect, I became a bookworm I read EVERYTHING Even when I was homeless squatting in a burned out basement, I still had a stack of books to read by candle light A eductaed myself on a combination of American Pulp and the Western Canon, without which I d be a functional illiterate.I digress into me me me territory because I m the kind of reader that no longer has patience with the mediocre Time is a premium at my decrepit age I ve read the greatest words ever written, and if you don t get busy within the first paragraph well, I ll be catching a cab home with my mad monsy, so as not to walk all that way in my high heels.Stephen brings the juice His pacing is invariably spot on perfect, without a trace of artifice His language is visceral, evocative, and unforced He is fearless as a writer, and you d better be as a reader if you intend to crack his pages.He drags you down with him into the deep waters, further into the abyss than you d ever counted on when you started You end in stark places with him but there s alway a sense of deja vu when he lets go of your hand and you re standing alone in a place as familiar as it is hellish.He s particularly good at conveying the surreal jumbling of reality a mind undergoes when under soul snapping stress the PIXELLATION of mentation you experience under severe enough trauma Stephen has obviously been to the edge in his life, and it indelibly stains his writing.The man is good, and writes in a graceful, comfortable tone that comes acrosslike a good friend spinning a yarn rather than a writer per se His craftsmanship, however, is impeccable despite its naturalness.I m glad I discovered him, and I recommend Mr Jones to anyone who insists on good writing in their books