Compulsory Games by Robert Aickman / ISBN 9781681371894 / 368-page paperback from New York Review of Books Classics
"Robert Aickman is one of the twentieth century's finest practitioners of the short story and his name should be placed among the greats—Flannery O'Connor, Irwin Shaw, Raymond Carver. Aickman wrote what he called 'strange stories'—the sort of thing that gets the dreaded genre fiction tag attached to you, so it's mainly horror fans who know his work. But make no mistake. The number of short story writers in English who are or were Aickman's equal is a low single digit. You will never forget the first Aickman story you read, nor be satisfied when you've read them all; and so this new collection is a feast for those of us who'd sought out the out-of-print volumes in second-hand stores over the years. I have hoped for years to see Aickman's writing gain the broad readership it deserves. May this new collection unnerve an entire generation of readers the way I got permanently unnerved when I first read 'Le Miroir' in Whispers magazine in 1977." —John Darnielle
Robert Aickman’s self-described “strange stories” are confoundingly and uniquely his own. These superbly written tales terrify not with standard thrills and gore but through a radical overturning of the laws of nature and everyday life. His territory of the strange, of the “void behind the face of order,” is a surreal region that grotesquely mimics the quotidian: Is that river the Thames, or is it even a river? What does it mean when a prospective lover removes one dress, and then another—and then another? Does a herd of cows in a peaceful churchyard contain the souls of jilted women preparing to trample a cruel lover to death? Published for the first time under one cover, the stories in this collection offer an unequaled introduction to a profoundly original modern master of the uncanny.