Tribute anthology to Ligotti. Varies in quality story to story, and some are less ligottian than others, or tooth on unessential or early Ligotti ideas. Most cerebral and ligottian contribution is Padgett’s “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism,” which develops subtlety as a slowly dawning horror. Some of the other stories are good, too, but there are a few that I just did not understand.
Thematically, many of the contributions concern solitude, and the horror effects are often enough generated by the conjunction of solitude with the sense that all that is solid melts into air, through the representation of decaying cities and so on. In these regards, horror as a whole strikes me as a profoundly conservative subgenre, generating its principle effect through the presentation of modern life as decadent, too transformative, completely alienated with no remedy.
Most of the stories in this volume sit along the fine line between the fantastic, wherein the text compels the reader to hesitate between natural and supernatural explanations for events, and the uncanny, wherein the natural explanation is preferred, usually a manifest defect in the narrator’s perception or cognition (cf. Jackson’s [b:Fantasy The Literature of Subversion|444387|Fantasy The Literature of Subversion|Rosemary Jackson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348375775s/444387.jpg|433121] at 24-29 regarding the distinction).
Consistent with the title, many of the stories involve puppets of one sort or another.
Recommended for those who are addicted to sacrifice, readers who could get a blowjob for a quarter in Scranton, and persons who learn the final step the hard way.