Aj Hayes is a word ninja. Here are his top five...
Here's the deal. There are at least a hundred or so stories right at the top of my mind that should be included here. Basically what I did was grab the first five that immediately popped up and wrote them down. Too, too many good things out there this year. They are in no particular order. It's just the way they came jamming into my head.
Stones In Me Pocket by Nigel Bird. In Shotgun Honey
Nigel at his heartbreaking, violent best. Defining a character so full of hate you can feel it radiating off the page. Then a death, in the black heart of a riot, becomes a soul searing realization. One that takes yet another life. And then you shed tears.
Mountain Falling by Christopher Grant. In Shotgun Honey
We all know of Mister Grant and his stunning marques: A Twist Of Noir. His creepy, gruesome and, at times, fall down funny zombie 'zine, Eaten Alive. Plus his groundbreaking new project, Alternate Endings. Besides all that, Christopher is also a kick ass writer of all things dark and noir-y delicious. This nut-busting tale of a rescue gone as wrong as it can get, is in-your-face proof of that talent.
Supper Time by Col Bury. In Eaten Alive.
Col Bury will have you at the very first sentence. In fact that very first sentence I mentioned is probably the very best first sentence I have ever read. (Eat your heart out, Call Me Ishmael). The rest of the story matches that statement. You only thought you knew the rules of the Zombie genre. Wait 'til Col gets through with your ass. You'll think different, mister.
Icing Shylock by Richard Godwin. In A Twist Of Noir
I, like most of you, had thought Richard Godwin was English. You know, the pip-pip, tallyho the fox, kind of British gent we think all Englishmen were and are. We were and are, wrong. Richard reveals -- in this rousing tale of a mob guy doin' what he has'ta, ya know -- that he is very closely related to Damon Runyon, Rex Stout and all the rest of those Black Mask Bad Boys of the American Pulp markets. I mean, if he can say: "But they call me Tony Two Times and I stand by my name." You just know he's blood kin closer to Damon Runyon than to Rudyard Kipling. Now dat's a clear fact, ain't it?
Dishes Dishes Dishes by Cindy Rosmus. In A Twist Of Noir
Yeah, yeah, we all know Cindy is the editor of Yellow Mama -- a magazine that consistently figures in every top ten list on the WWW. We all know she's a major poet who can move you in a lot of different ways. But we should never forget she is also one hellishly good writer. This story proves that in spades . . . and knives and guys named Shemp and booze and guys named Fatty Pants and dishwater blondes who are just plain tired of every-friggin'- thing and . . . oh yeah . . . knives.
I must add two caveats to this list:
Because all of Matthew C. Funk's New Orleans stories must be read to completely see the searing portrait of the Queen City he paints. You just can't pick a favorite. You have to read them all. Or, better yet, make him write them into a novel. (note to the author: Just write that son of a bitch, Matt. Just damn WRITE it. Please.) If you want to read a sample here's the latest:
A Little Miracle by Matthew C. Funk. In Shotgun Honey
The only word you will be able to utter after you read the last line will be unprintable in "proper" magazines.
The second caveat is:
EVERY SINGLE STORY in Luca Vesta's, Off The Record, is one of the best stories you ever read. Don't miss this book. Go. Now. Buy. Here: