Reading Jeffrey Ford

Reading Jeffrey Ford's stories in The Fantasy Writer's Assistant brought back the excitement of the 1960's when we scanned the magazines for the latest Zelazny and Le Guinn, Disch and Wolfe and speculative fiction seemed to get remade every month.

Ford is that fresh, that good. His range is big. In the hilarious title story, he devestates the extended fantasy series. "Bright Morning" dances with Kafka and the writer's life. "Floating in Lindrethool" takes the tired 1940's noir film, slaps its cliches around and turns it back into something full of danger and heart. "Creation" mixes The Catholic Baltimore Catechism and Shelley's Frankenstein with a bit of what I suspect is autobiography and produces an amazing father/son story.

The technique is masterful. The uncanny arises effortlessly out of the ordinary in the New Jersey college compostion class of "The Honeyed Knot." Of all the actors in the Hollywood pantheon, the narrator of "Exo-Skeleton Town" becomes Joseph Cotton! And it makes perfect, painful sense. "The Woman Who Counts Her Breath" begins with the narrator casually describing his minor monster of a mother-in-law and ends with chilling mortal combat.

I don't know if Speculative Fiction is large enough to contain Jeffrey Ford for very long. But while it does, we have this book.

— Richard Bowes


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