“One of the greatest short fiction writers in 20th-century literature was Raymond Carver.  The American author penned more than 70 short stories, in which he proved his innate ability to use simplistic, accessible language to convey the lives, ambitions and emotions of everyday people in ways that resonated with readers.  Richard Chizmar’s new collection of stories, A Long December, manages to tap into Carver’s traits with exceptional skill, though with a decidedly darker spin.

“A noted authority on Stephen King, as well as the publisher of both Cemetery Dance magazine and Cemetery Dance Publications, Chizmar knows his way around the disquiet of everyday life.  A common theme throughout A Long December’s 35 stories is the false faces so many people put on – how we think we know someone, and the emotions that come bursting forth when it’s discovered that person isn’t who they seem to be.  For instance, in ‘The Silence of Sorrow,’ a father dealing with his lost son encounters a horrible truth.  In ‘The Box,’ a family’s perception of their child is shattered. The torture and terror of adolescence and cruelty of teens is skillfully explored in ‘The Lake is Life,’ while, in the excellent titular novella, a family is shaken when the neighbor they’ve made part of their lives is revealed to be a force of horrible evil.

“Chizmar’s stories range from supernatural to psychological horror, and they all share the author’s assured hand at storytelling.  None of the tales overstay their welcome; in fact, I found myself wanting more from many of them.  Ultimately, he’s put together an immensely readable book full of appealing and often-times frightening characters, which, combined with his smooth language makes A Long December hard to put down.  Raymond Carver would be pleased.”

Andy Burns

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