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DarkEcho Horror
deccoclock by Rick Berry
Book Review

The Cat's Pajamas & Other Stories
James Morrow
Tachyon/ 210 pages / $24.95
(September 2004)
ISBN 1892391155

Book CoverDespite some noteworthy awards, James Morrow is one of the more underappreciated writers in the business. He's also one of the best and one of the funniest. Morrow is a true satirist, a moralist who identifies some of our many faults and offers a wholly new perspective (not solutions, mind you, that is not his job) through his droll distortions. I suspect mainstream readers, as well as some science fiction and fantasy lovers, may be somewhat put off by exactly what you horror-lovers will relish the ghoulish side of his darkly delightful satire. Although enlightenment may be provided, it's usually not offered until we've dealt with at least some despair. It's probably enough to tell you the title story retells H.G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau by way of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but that's not all, folks! There's thirteen tales here that will have you laughing and weeping at the same time. "Come Back, Dr. Sarcophagus," a small play original to the volume, involves a creature feature host who needs a little outside help - outside of this world - to hold on to his job. In another original playette, "The Zombies of Montrose," a voodoo priestess provides raises the dead and puts them usefully to work in suburbia. Performance copulation has become high art in "The Wisdom of the Skin," but perhaps it is just a passing fancy. Catholicism's attention to the rights of the unborn evolves into a nightmarish future of dystopic fecundity in "Auspicious Eggs." "Apologue" is very short, very touching, and features a certain giant ape, a marauding mutant lizard, and a rollercoaster munching rheodasaur who come out of retirement in post-9/11 New York. James Morrow obviously loves his fellow human beings and has a sharp eye for their foibles. His wit and pen are sharper still. If you are unfamiliar with Morrow, this wonderful collection his first new title in about five years --from Tachyon (an equally wonderful small press based in San Francisco) is a superb starting point. If you already know him you won't want to miss it.
--Originally published in Cemetery Dance #51

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