At Home in the Dark

Subterranean. May 2019. 360p. ed. by ed. by Lawrence Block. ISBN 9781596069176. $50. M
Block (A Drop of the Hard Stuff), editor of this collection, prefers the word dark to noir, and the 17 stories in this compilation have various degrees of darkness. It’s a strong lineup of authors, including Joe Hill, Joe R. Lansdale, Joyce Carol Oates, and Duane Swierczynski. Lansdale’s “The Senior Girls Bayonet Drill Team” offers a powerful dystopian story about high school girls who fight with bayonets in enormous stadiums. Nancy Pickard’s “If Only You Would Leave Me,” a story of a couple who have grown to resent each other, has a surprise ending. It will be difficult to forget Swierczynski’s “Giant’s Despair” or Hill’s “Faun,” both of which will leave readers feeling uncomfortable.
VERDICT While the selection of authors is appealing, readers and libraries may balk at the price. Because the quality varies, and there are only 17 stories, the Akashic “Noir” collections may be preferable.
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