cover image American Morons

American Morons

Glen Hirshberg, . . Earthling, $24 (191pp) ISBN 978-0-9766339-8-3

Ordinary bits of Americana show a dark and eerie aspect in the seven stories in Hirshberg's second collection (after 2003's The Two Sams ). "Flowers on Their Bridles, Hooves in the Air" is set in the arcades of a dying seaside boardwalk where characters see their unfocused lives mirrored in the decaying rides and unwinnable games of chance. "Safety Clowns" uses the mundane routines of a neighborhood ice cream truck as a springboard for an incongruous tale of supernatural vigilantism. The title story recalls the oblique horrors of Robert Aickman's weird tales in its account of two American travelers abroad who find themselves caught up in the indecipherable but increasingly menacing rituals of another culture. Hirshberg grounds his dark fantasies in minute details of the everyday that give them a discomfitingly believable foothold in reality. His skill at drawing horrors out of commonplace situations peopled with credibly drawn characters distinguishes these subtle tales of the uncanny as some of the most effective and chilling in contemporary weird fiction. (Oct.)