Norman Partridge burst onto the horror scene in 1989. After a number of small-press magazine stories, his first collection, Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales was published in 1992. Get this: It won a Bram Stoker Award for best collection. Now also get this: The book was published by Roadkill Press (a small venture by Doug and Tomi Lewis, owners of Colorado's Little Bookshop of Horrors) in an edition of only 500 copies.
Look at the previous winners in that category: Harlan Ellison, Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, and Dan Simmons. Impressive? Hell, yeah. Let's look at all the others who have won in that category since: (alphabetically) Michael Arzen, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Gary Braunbeck, Ramsey Campbell, Jonathan Carroll, Douglas Clegg, Joe Hill, Jack Ketchum, Thomas Ligotti, Thomas F. Monteleone, Gene O'Neil, John Shirley, and Karl Edward Wagner. Oh, and that Stephen King guy won two more times;
All of which is to show that Partridge has the chops. He can write with the eye of a poet while his razor sharp prose slices into the depths of your brain. Much of his work is the quiet horror espoused by Charles L. Grant; but he can run as wild and wooly as Joe R. Lansdale and be as enigmatical as Robert Aickman. In short, each individual Patridge story is a pleasure.
When Mr. Fox first came out it collected seven stories, five original and two previous published in small-press magazines. In 2005, Subterranean Press released a vastly expanded edition, adding eleven stories, a novel excerpt, a couple of articles, and extensive commentary by the author. The subtitle to the 2005 edition is "A Collection, a Recollection, a Writer's Handbook". Throughout the book, Patridge introduces stories, chronicles his experience as an up-and-coming writer, and offers insights into the arts of writing and marketing prose. The commentary alone is worth the price of the book.
Here's the line-up of the original collection:
- Mr. Fox
- The Baddest Son of a Bitch in the House
- Black Leather Kites (from Chills #5)
- Save the Last Dance for Me (from Cemetery Dance #2)
- In Beauty, Like the Night
- Body Bags (from Grue #15)
- Cosmos (from Nectulpa #4)
- Stackalee (from Cemetery Dance #15)
- Tooth & Nail (from Palace Corbie #5)
- The Entourage (from Thunder's Shadow #4)
- Kiss of Death (an excerpt)
- Treats (from Blood Review #4)
- Velvet Fangs (from Haunts #25)
- Cuidado! [Sorry, I can't do the Hispanic reverse exclamation at the begiining of the title.] (from Chilled to the Bone, edited by Robert T. Garcia)
- When the Fruit Comes Ripe (from Grue #17)
- Walkers (from Not One of Us #8)
- The Season of Giving (written with Richard T. Chizmar, from Santa Clues, edited by Martin H. Greenberg)
- The Oldest Story in the Book
- At the Battlements of Bannockburn (from Tales of Cruachan #1)
- Ten Fingers of Death
- Style of the Mantis
- Man, I Just Work Here
- Cutting to the Chase
- Satan's Army
- My Favorite Rejection Slip
Ringmaster Todd Mason is riding herd on Friday's Forgotten Books this week while Patti Abbott is on walkabout. Join Todd at his blog Sweet Freedom.