The followup lives up to its predecessor, with editor Alec Cizak once again assembling a quality assortment of stories from established authors and relative newcomers alike that span crime, fantasy, and the Old West. As always, there were a few that particularly stood out for me.
I don’t think there’s an author currently working in crime fiction/noir who more consistently forces readers to go to uncomfortable places as does Matthew C. Funk, and “Breed Out the Bad” is no exception. The matter-of-fact way in which Funk tells the story of a young man done wrong’s Biblical solution to ridding his small town of the ‘evil’ represented by the Tarwater family, starting with the sisters, is as deeply disturbing as it gets.
“The Aerialist” by Stephen Eoannou is a wonderfully understated tale of love, betrayal, and revenge. It turns out Spence and Blind Charlie share more in common than an affinity for placing bets at the OTB, and as the two journey across town to watch an aerialist attempt to walk between the two Statue of Liberty replicas atop the Liberty Building one of them will also discover the aerialist isn’t the only person making a perilous journey and poised for a disastrous fall.
Steven Axelrod’s “The Auteur” explores the dark and persistent urban legend that an underground network of snuff film enthusiasts exists. In Axelrod’s tale a one-hit wonder director gives up teaching film at UCLA to pursue a more lucrative and creatively fulfilling endeavor, capturing death on film. When things on his latest shoot go sideways the auteur has to pull out all the stops to make one last masterpiece.
“Tidy” by Patti Abbott features Dr. William Tyde, an extremely OCD kind of guy. You know, the type who flips out over the slightest thing out of place or a neighbor who has the gall to break the HOA covenants. Things get decidedly untidy for Tyde when the worlds he’s worked so hard to keep orderly and separate, his wife and his hooker girlfriend, collide with spectacularly violent – and messy – consequences.
“The Void” by JC Hemphill is a trippy number in which frat members sharing a house wake up to discover more than a mess in the garage following their latest mega-party. Cleaning up beer cans, pizza boxes and other assorted partymath is one thing, but what in the world are they to do about that bottomless hole in the floor? Better figure something out fast, because the void is hungry… and expanding.
It’s bad enough that Ava Foster’s husband, Judge Thaddeus Foster, is carrying-on down at the local whorehouse, but as he and the proprietor learn in Chris La Tray’s “A Blunderbuss for a Broken Heart” the last thing you ever want to do is come between a woman and a cherished family heirloom, especially when that heirloom happens to be the forerunner of the modern shotgun.
Pulp Modern is published quarterly and you can learn more about it, including submission guidelines, at their website. The complete lineup for the Winter 2011/2012 issue includes stories from Chris La Tray, David James Keaton, Jack Webster, JC Hemphill, Jeremy Shane, Jerome K Jerome, John Kenyon, Leland Neville, Matthew C. Funk, Michael Moreci, Patti Abbott, Stephen Eoannou, Steven Axelrod, and William Dylan Powell.
Pulp Modern 2 is available from Uncle B. Publications (ISBN: 978-1467974073).