Forgive me for punctuating the slug of this post with an explanation point, but I’m beside myself. The first official review of Unseaming has appeared, from Publishers Weekly no less, and it’s a starred review. Anita and I have just come back from a wonderful, whirlwind trip to upstate New York (where everything mentioned in this post happened) and I have so much to catch up on, giveaway prizes to mail, Clockwork Phoenix contributor royalties to calculate, Mythic Delirium submissions to read; but this could not wait:
Allen’s 14-story debut collection saturates alternate dimensions with literal horrific fleshiness. His unsettling Nebula-nominated “The Button Bin” is as disorienting as it is disturbing; it neatly sets the stage for the blood-soaked dreamscape vision of an overstuffed sin-eater in “The Blessed Days,” as well as the more direct but no less chilling creature that crawls onto the Appalachian Trail in “The Hiker’s Tale.” In prose both lyrical and unvarnished, Allen depicts haunting regret in “Stone Flowers” and disembodied shrieking rage and grief in “Let There Be Darkness.” When he combines both emotions in “The Quiltmaker,” a continuation of “The Button Bin,” he transforms that original tale in ways that resonate throughout the collection. Never obvious, sometimes impenetrable, Allen’s stories deliver solid shivering terror tinged with melancholy sorrow over the fragility of humankind.
Whoever wrote this review was frighteningly spot on — they really, really got what I’m about as a writer. Given all the obstacles and false starts that plagued this book on its long road to publication … well, this feeling will pass — it always does, heh — but right now I feel like the runner who trips over every hurdle but completes the race anyway, and then gradually realizes that against all odds he crossed the finish line first.