Mighty Unclean: Sixteen Unwholesome Tales

Edited by Bill Breedlove

Dark Arts Books

ISBN: 978-0-9779686-4-0

2009; $19.95

The next book in writer/publisher John Everson’s great series is Mighty Unclean: Sixteen Unwholesome Tales. Reminiscent of the old Night Visions series (three authors with usually a fourth introducing and/or editing the book), it’s a great way to sample an author or two before buying their novel or collection.

With a mix of reprints and new stories, Mighty Unclean lives up to its name. Cody Goodfellow kicks it off strongly with a tale of a venus flytrap unlike any you have ever read about before. Next is about a group of prisoners who are part of an experimental program trying to bust-out, a young mother who is host to something, and a man who can impregnate you by just getting close enough (a favorite of the WHC Gross-out contest in 2006). Cody writes with a deft control and strong command of his abilities for a writer still relatively new. Often lumped in with the Bizarro gang, Goodfellow is operating on his own plane. His four stories in this are all very good.

British-born author Gemma Files follows with three offerings. The first is a subtle tale set in the past of war set in India and featuring a dose of Hindi mythology, the next a more modern goth-type story and the last a haunting paen to the cult of celebrity writers in the modern age. Gemma is the yang to Cody’s Ying certainly. Both are strong, smart writers flexing their intellectual muscles, but while Goodfellow tends to the extreme side, Files is more restrained. Of the three, I liked the first and third the best.

Mort Castle is next with his down-home style of fiction. Combing music (jazz) and the dark side, he weaves three stories set to music (the first two and the last), with a forth an homage to Marilyn Monroe and the cult of Hollywood, and the last a weird ode to a bad (but often loved) Science Fiction flick from the 50’s. I didn’t care much for this homage, but a couple of the others were good.

Batting cleanup is Gary Braunbeck who closes out the collection convincingly. He’s long been a favorite of mine and definitely seems to get stronger and stronger as a writer as time goes on. Gary has the knack of emotionally wrenching out his heart onto the page and these four stories are no different. His first offering is a surreal story that wrenches out the grief and pain of loss like Gary has a strong knack for. His second tale is a surprisingly more extreme offering of sex and blood (which he opens with a quote from Titus Andronicus so that should tell you). The third story is a wonderful love letter to Ray Bradbury and the last is an apocalyptic offering that expounds on the dangers of war and the question of who is more important than someone else. All four stories are all excellent.

Overall, a great collection and recommended.  Copies can be purchased at various stores as well as direct at: http://www.darkartsbooks.com

– Reviewed by James R. Beach

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~ by darkdiscoveries on February 13, 2010.

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