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Review by
Jimmy Z
Edited by William P. Simmons
Catalyst Press
TPB 253 pages
ISBN: 91-85075-00-0

Cover Art by Tom Arensberg


VIVISECTIONS is not the anthology series you think it is. As a matter of fact, I had to break out the dictionary about 6 or 7 stories into it. This is what Webster had to say.

Vivisection: noun
1: the cutting of or operation on a living animal usually for physiological or pathological investigation.
2: minute or pitiless examination or criticism.

I wasn't aware of the second definition, so I was expecting tales of dismemberment. In the afterword by David B. Silva, he says "There you have it. Tales of Dark Wonder. Tales of Dread. Tales of Devastating Pain. Vivisections of the dark side of life." This is a fascinating collection of stories that transcend categorization.

With so many good stories it is almost impossible to single out favorites. But I shall highlight a few standouts amongst the 20 stories in this collection.

Simon Wood's tale "Warning Signs" is a roadkill story unlike any I have read before. If you don't follow the rules, there are consequences. Chances are you won't enjoy the consequences. Ron J. Horsely's story "The Theater At The End Of The World" is an intriguing look into the working life of someone who runs a movie theater. But when you run a movie theater at the end of the world, who will your patrons be.

Michael Olivieri has a delightfully wicked little question and answer session with a priest in "Who Trespasses Against Him." Some of these questions are the ones you have always wanted to ask but never had the nerve. Some of these are the questions I used to get in trouble for asking in Catholic school (the nuns loved me.) And to cap it all off, this story quotes lyrics from Concrete Blonde.

Always dreamed of being the star in a porno movie? "Too Good To Be True" by Tony Richards shows why you should be careful what you wish for. Sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. Paul G. Trembley wrote a lovely little story titled "Perfect," which shows the lengths children will go to for a mother's love.

There are stories here about sexual abuse, a fairy named (aptly enough) teapot, killing your girlfriend, killing your husband, killing your mother. A ghost story. A serial killer. A Y2K story that I'm sure all of us can relate to in some way or another. There are even stories about AIDS and Guy Fawkes and Leonardo da Vinci.

There is a decidedly British flair to this anthology. Several of the authors I recognized as British before I started reading their stories. Some of the others offered little colloquialisms that signified their origins. A "spanner" here. Going "to hospital" there. A baby sleeping in a cot instead of a crib.

This is the kind of collection I love. 20 different authors telling 20 different types of stories. All of them interesting. As I finished every story I was left with a need to read more by that author. With this anthology finished I can now begin that search.

I give VIVISECTIONS 4 BookWyrms. Only a couple of weak stories keep this from being a 5.


This review copyright 2003 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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