Today Laird Barron's fourth story collection, Swift to Chase, is being released. Who is Laird Barron? Well, that is the subject of today's post for those of you working in libraries who may be unaware of him.
First, if you learn nothing else from this post today, know this-- Laird Barron is a name you need to remember and an author whose work needs to be ANY library where ANY horror is read. You have Stephen King's books? Yes. Well then you need some by Laird Barron titles.
Well, as the stories in Swift to Chase illustrate, Barron perfectly encapsulates today's literary landscape because while terror is at the center of all of his works, he uses a variety of genres to pull it off. There are notes of cosmic horror, adventure, and noir. His stories have a wonderful sense of place, an oppressive atmosphere, great characters, original and compelling plots, and also beautiful language. They will play with your mind in an enjoyable way, drag you along for a satisfyingly terrifying ride, and leave you begging for more.
Specifically, Swift to Chase marks the beginning of what Barron is calling his Alaska Cycle. All of these tales are set in his home state. Both the beauty and menace of this wild land is rendered perfectly. There is terror, yes, but also longing for the place Barron has since left behind. Barron considers himself an Expat Alaskan much the way I consider myself an Expat Jersey Girl. On a personal level, I really related to his longing for the nuances of his home state. Yes Alaska and NJ are very different, but the feeling of longing is the same. And like me, he is able to point out the bad of home while still holding a deep, undying affection for it.
Yes, this collection will appeal to horror fans, but it will also be enjoyed by your psychological suspense, thriller, dystopian science fiction, and even literary fiction readers. Don't believe me on that last claim of literary fiction readers? Well, a little birdie told me that Swift to Chase will be making an appearance in The New York Times Book Review. So those readers will see it and probably come ask for it. You want to be ready, right?
Remember when you didn't know who Paul Tremblay was and then he broke out in a huge way last year? Barron is going to be this year's Tremblay. Speaking of, Tremblay wrote a wonderful introduction to this collection, so there's another way you can introduce it as a suggestion to patrons-- - "You like Tremblay right? Read everything already? Well he loves this collection. Why not give it a try?"
I have had my eye on Barron for awhile; in fact, in an upcoming issue of Booklist, I have a review of this Ellen Datlow collection in which I called out Barron as having the best story in the volume. [By the way, an ARC of that collection is in the "Stories" giveaway I posted here; you have until 5pm central today to enter to win that.]
Stay tuned to the blog because I have a copy of Swift to Chase from the publisher to give away next week. Actually I will have an entire prize pack from JournalStone of official copies (NOT ARCS) to giveaway and I want you to add them to your library's collection. It will be in a post about my favorite horror small presses. This giveaway will include titles by NYT Best Selling authors. Don't miss out on that.
Finally, I have included the LitReactor Bookshots review of Swift to Chase in this post. Why? Well, I highlighted this cool resource on RA for All back in August using a "not quite horror" title-- Bite. I wanted to both remind you of these great reviews and mention that more often than not, they are of darker books. As a result, Bookshots is a great resource for mainstream scary titles that are perfect to add to public library collections. [Click here to pull up all of the Bookshots reviews at once.]
So check out the Bookshots review of Swift to Chase below and DO NOT IGNORE ME about Barron. Order this book right now for your libraries. JournalStone titles are available on all of the major book ordering services you use at your library. So no excuses.
Swift to Chase
Who wrote it?
This book will go down as one of the best horror story collections of the decade. This I promise you.
Laird Barron, award-winning author of The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and Other Stories and, my personal favorite out of everything he's written, Man with No Name.
Plot in a box:
A collection of loosely connected cosmic nightmares frozen deep in Alaskan hell.
Invent a new title for this book:
Either Hearse Songs or Ass-Deep in Devil’s Club.
Read this if you like(d):
Brian Evenson. Paul Tremblay. Gemma Files. Season one of True Detective. A little bit of Fortitude, too.
Meet the book’s lead(s):
Hitchhikers concealing sharp blades and even sharper secrets. Strong women who don’t take shit from anybody. A high school of weirdos, jocks, and Heathers more sinister than you could ever imagine.
Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:
Charlize Theron. Josh Brolin. Christian Slater. Winona Ryder.
Setting: Would you want to live there?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve heard rumors that Alaska is...slightly cold. I currently live in Texas, and I’m pretty goddamn sick of the heat, so, you know, maybe? I won’t lie. There’s something appealing to me about living alone in a cabin somewhere in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by snow and bears. I probably wouldn’t survive a month, though. I'm very fragile.
What was your favorite sentence?
Buckle up, there’s a few:
I threw a glass of whiskey in his face, as a lady does when her appearance is insulted by an oaf.
He drives like turtles screw so we’ve apparently got all the time in the world.
In this nightmare he is kissing me but his left eye is gone and I can see daylight shining all the way through his skull. He says hot into my mouth, This wound won’t close.
Maybe the parasite that fruits your corpse is the only true part of you that existed.
When reading a Laird Barron story, you have to throw all expectations of the universe out the window. You have to crawl into his words as a naked infant hungry for knowledge of the world. You have to trust that he’ll guide you down the right roads, through the right dimensions.
Nobody knows the cold horrors of Alaska better than Barron.
In these stories, evil is very real. Not only is it always within reach, but it’s not afraid to grab you and fuck you up at any given moment. This is perhaps one of the most unique collections I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It managed to do the impossible and make me enjoy not just one, but multiple serial killer-related stories. These stories are on fire, no brakes, heading at full-speed to the edge of the universe. Laird Barron’s prose is not only fascinating, but often poetic as well.
Many of the stories in this collection feature the same characters, at different points in their lives. I wouldn’t call it a novel, not by any stretch, but I could definitely see it working as a killer TV series. Imagine an anthology horror show hosted by Laird Barron and tell me your pants aren’t suddenly sticky.
I’m not going to get into the plots of each story found in Swift to Chase. That’s for you to discover on your own. If someone told you what waited under the earth, would you keep digging?
Listen. This book will go down as one of the best horror story collections of the decade. This I promise you.