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Black Pockets: And Other Dark Thoughts [Hardcover]

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Item description for Black Pockets: And Other Dark Thoughts by Howard Waldrop George Zebrowski...

This collection of 19 horror stories, culled from the career of a writer best known for his literary science fiction, explores horror as a product of the human mind by allowing personal, political, and metaphysical obsessions to unleash terrors that beset these characters and by refusing to rely on genre-typical terrors such as serial killers and ancient curses. The original novella "Black Pockets" depicts a hate so all-consuming that a man makes a bargain to carry out the revenge plot of a dying enemy in order to gain the power to pursue his own victims. In unusual zombie tale, "I Walked with Fidel," Fidel Castro's ideals are slowly betrayed by both Cold War superpowers. And a Kafka-like uneasiness pervades "A Piano Full of Dead Spiders," in which a composer's music actually is the result of spiders walking on piano strings. Posing as philosophical puzzles, the stories gain emotional power from an attention to character development and the insightful investigation of both private and collective nightmares.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   310
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.3" Width: 5.7" Height: 1.3"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 28, 2006
Publisher   Golden Gryphon Press
ISBN  1930846401  
ISBN13  9781930846401  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Horror Fiction > Anthologies
2Books > Subjects > Horror Fiction > General
3Books > Subjects > Horror Fiction > United States
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Short Stories > General
7Books > Subjects > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Black Pockets: And Other Dark Thoughts?

Short stories with colossal imaignation  Dec 19, 2006
I was extremely interested in this collection since it was written by a fellow Polish man and I truly enjoyed the hybrid of sci-fi, religion, time travel, politics and quiet horrors that they author so eloquently has put together. My interest in his style has paid off as the tales were not mere horror stories but stories that stuck a fork in my brain and stirred it like noodles as I enjoyed them and read them with high intensity.

"Black Pockets" is a very unusual collection of shorts, delivering a knock out punch while each tale as brief as it might be is potent with anticipation of what the few shorts pages pack. It's a wonderful trip for those who are pressed on time and who still want to read an excellent piece of writing with almost instant satisfaction while they get the chilly answer in a few pages.

For lovers of short stories "Black Pockets" is a tantalizing myriad of different types of horror as it trespasses on chapters about Personal Terrors, Political Horrors and Metaphysical Fears. Zebrowski is a fine craftsman when it comes to words as he shapes and molds them into hair- rising good tales that make the reader wonder in awe how he could have possibly thought all of these up. He proves that no matter how crazy the killer or the protagonist is in each of his tales, people are more similar than different and in those dark corners of their subconscious is where the real monster hides. The subtle yet tantalizing touches of macabre intermixed with time travel, amnesias, international politics, people who leave their houses and find themselves transported to the past, goblins in a medieval castle and mermaids on the shore at midnight safeguarding a sacrificial secret are just a few of the rays his imagination sends out into the reader's universe.

George Zebrowski reaches out beyond the known zones of imagination and delivers tales about murderous spouses in denial, Jesus going through a time machine form being stabbed on the cross to being robbed in an alley two thousand years later, haunted spiders in a piano, a Fidel Castro zombie who would never die just like the dictator who keeps surpassing everyone, fears of broken teeth, adultery, battles in outer space and medieval castles and every day terrors that haunt each and every one as he dares them to read his tales and sleep with the lights on. It takes a master to turn the ordinary into extraordinary and that's the quality of story telling and fine craftsmanship that Zebrowski proudly presents in this intimate and profound collection of very strong short stories. For those tired of the usual banal horror shorts this is a luxe collection that will keep them up at night and keep the tales circulating in the memory long after they are digested.

- Kasia S.

Spooky...  Jul 6, 2006
Black Pockets, $24.95 US, is an unusual anthology of horror stories -- penned by science fiction author George Zebrowski -- that will linger in your mind, long after you've read them. Although the book collects stories from throughout his career, almost half of these nineteen stories have been published online or in magazines since 2003.

Let me reveal where some of these stories were previously published: Amazing Stories, Castle Fantastic, Chillers, Conqueror Fantastic, Envisioning the Future, Infinity Five, Microcosms, More Phobias, Phantoms of the Night, Science Fiction Review, Strange Bedfellows, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, The Silver Gryphon, The Twilight Zone Magazine. Those that are magazines are mostly still in publication.

A novella -- Black Pockets -- written just for inclusion here fills one fifth of the anthology. Bruno is our protagonist in this weird revenge yarn. This fellow hates a guy called Felix Lytton. On his deathbed, Felix unexpectedly grants Bruno a strange power he's acquired, but with conditions. Bruno must eradicate Felix's remaining enemies.

Concept not withstanding, the stories in Black Pockets shiver together under three umbrellas: personal, political, and metaphysical. The gems of the anthology are generally personal, according to Zebrowski. Jumper, Hell Just Over the Hill, and the jaw dropping Takes You Back are a few of the sensations that occupy the first eighty two pages with aplomb.

Kill your fears by confronting them? That's what Dr. Cheney wants his patient Ms. Melita to do in Jumper, a psychological thriller about a telecommunications executive that has a cruel and vindictive father. The good doctor unwittingly begins to fall in love with her over five sessions. In their final meeting, something truly awful occurs.

Perhaps you've taken a strange vacation at some point in your life? None stranger than the one Richard Barrow takes in Hell Just Over the Hill. Following an argument (with his girlfriend Rita) he hops on a bus to Chicago to clear his head, intent on smoothing things out tomorrow, only he never gets that chance.

Of these nineteen stories, my favorite is Takes You Back, a tale about a married man -- Gerard -- that uncovers a loophole in time. If you were sent thirty months back in time, with the prospect of confronting yourself, what would you do? Spencer, a cosmic kitty, figures prominently throughout the pretzel-logic narrative.

Considering the four stories about tyrants, two are superlative. I Walked With Fidel and General Jarulzelski at the Zoo are worthy of perusing. Although one was written in the nineties, and the other in the eighties, both have a timeless quality despite the changes that have occurred since the fall of Russian and Eastern European communism.

Kill Fidel if you were given the opportunity? That's what the erstwhile protagonist in I Walked With Fidel gets to do, although he is squeamish and reluctant to eliminate Castro when given the perfect chance. Fact is, the Guardsman stationed at Guantanamo Bay has become enamored of the zombie dictator, made money off him too.

Even though I'm probably missing some of the political implications buried in the tale General Jarulzelski at the Zoo, that didn't stop me from enjoying it. When you get down to brass tacks, it's mainly about Poland's relationship with Russia. Use of `animals in a zoo' is clear metaphor for those trapped behind the Iron Curtain.

The Alternate, only seven pages long, packs a wallop. Our protagonist here is named Bruno Lumet -- maybe the Bruno appearing in the other stories -- but in this nugget that fronts the anthology, he's unquestionably the victim. His being murdered is not the stunner. Surprise resides in who's killed him.

So to sum up, I'd give George Zebrowski's Black Pockets a hardy recommendation. It's always interesting when an author chooses to write outside the genre that earned him his notoriety, and this anthology of wicked short stories proves no exception to that rule. I look forward to reading more of George's intense tales of personal horror.

The Book:
Black Pockets,
Golden Gryphon Press


275 Pages

5 Stars

Nineteen Stories:

I. Personal Terrors
The Wish in the Fear
Hell Just Over the Hill
The Alternate
Earth Around His Bones
Fire of Spring
First Love, First Fear
Passing Nights
Takes You Back

II. Political Horrors
I Walked With Fidel
General Jarulzelski at the Zoo
The Soft Terrible Music
My First World

III. Metaphysical Fears
The Coming of Christ the Joker
A Piano Full of Dead Spiders
Black Pockets
Lords of Imagination
An impressively entertaining collection of this accomplished author's memorable short stories of horror   Jun 5, 2006
Black Pockets And Other Dark Thoughts by George Zebrowski is an impressively entertaining collection of this accomplished author's memorable short stories of horror gathered together under one cover, and includes the novella "Black Pockets" which was written especially for this anthology of dark fantasy. Combining metaphorical lore and a born storyteller's skills, Black Pockets contributes works analyzing personal, political, metaphysical, and vividly intimate stories ranging from the dwellings of Gore Vidal in The Coming Of Christ The Joker, to the mind of Tim and the mysterious girl in First Love, First Fear. Black Pockets is very highly recommended reading, particularly for horror fantasy enthusiasts for its deft authorship of original and highly evocative tales that will haunt your dreams long after the volume is finished and set back upon the shelf.


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