Wild Justice – Edited by Ellen Datlow

Real-Time Review Continued From Here


A Flock of Lawn Flamingos – Pat Murphy

Ripples, like the ones that spread out when you toss a pebble into a pond. I love watching what happens when you introduce a tiny perturbation into a system.

…a bit like discussion forums on the new-fangled internet that has grown up since this book was first published?  This story is a quiet relief from the edgy danger of this amazing book’s previous story and is socially humorous in its own kindly, if sometimes mischievous, way (in spite or because of its tale of the inclination to create controversial ripples), as deep-down good-hearted as a wonderful Alan Ayckborn play – although much subtle, otherwise civilised, testing of boundaries tends to be prone to its own edginess, an edginess which ripples more violently within relative moderation than extremities rippling other extremities, vilenesses rippling other vilenesses. A lesson for us all.  Here, we have a respectable housing committee that allows certain garden ornaments within tolerance-levels of quantity or size on the houses’ lawns – and the ripples are caused by a lady (Joan Egypt or Ellen Datlow?) who tries to stretch those rules towards but not beyond the point of rupture; a bit like the earlier deployment of Holbein’s painted skull? This book itself is (or was) like a huge tractor on the White House Lawn, I guess.  Or like the Internet as coherent or incoherent masses of diamond dust in your soul?  And as I said earlier in this review about the embedded good-luck charms and other niceties of civilised behaviour:<<It makes sure it is ‘unforgotten’ by means of its own revenge, a revenge of inanimate object upon the life that owns it?>>: and here that sentiment is recast as “It seems so sad, when even inanimate objects tell you to keep your distance.” (14 Mar 12 – another 4 hours later)


Touch Me Everyplace – Michael Cadnum

I vacuumed…”

A short nifty alien abduction story?  The brilliant thing is you’re never sure. But I  am sure the untucked-in narrator would have some sympathy with Joan Egypt in the previous story: the authorities, the testers and all that – and stretching boundaries like elevators or spaceships or skulls. But “bullets don’t work that well“, he tells me. Golden or diamond. Even my gestalt-seeking bullets aimed at the tantalisingly moving ‘everyplace’ of this book.  Admit defeat, and start this morning’s close encounter with the hoovering, I guess. Wife-tested. 😐 (15 Mar 12 – 8.45 am gmt)

The Screaming Man – Richard Christian Matheson

Shrugged with vacant theory.”

Another short nifty alien abduction story?  This time the sounds – heard by all testers – of an inferred dysfunctional family within a man’s chest. “Forgotten selves.” – but now Fowler’s relic-room ‘Unforgotten’? Buried within. Now only ‘half-buried’ as in ‘Ships’ or ‘Foreign Bodies’.    Proustian shades of self horror: with possible premonitory encapsulation by shortcut-link to the ‘zoo‘ gestalt I extracted from (or implanted in?) ‘The WEIRD’ (Ed. by the VanderMeers) that I real-time reviewed at the end of last year.  (15 Mar 12 – an hour later)

Rare Promise – M. M. O’Driscoll

“…sketching in the blanks…” — “His turn to enter the box…”  — “Truth hides in a secret place…” — “…but there’s no escape in imagination.” — “engine-foaming sea…”

[This is the only story in ‘Wild Justice’ that I have read before. Here is my quite lengthy real-time review of this story in March 2009 when I reviewed the whole of Mike O’Driscoll’s collection ‘Unbecoming’ (2006). Mike also has a story in ‘Nemonymous One’ (2001): arguably about Stephen King’s ‘accident’.  And he has a story in ‘The Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies’ (2011), a story that actually mentions the editor of ‘Wild Justice’ by name, which I real-time review here.]

My old review of this story linked above still stands. But I have just re-read ‘Rare Promise’: as well as being a poetic tale of awakening youthful passion and its stifling of earlier memories as yet beyond regression, it echoes the hearing of voices from the previous story. Hearing voices, seeing “voids” or vacuums, ancient leaf-carpeted woodland beds, I infer: a “consecrated ground” where you can’t bury suicides: where memories still fester…  It is the coming and going of young Greta, cf: Ings’ Alice. It does indeed sketch in Michael Marshall Smith’s ‘blanks’, and other stories’ burials (figurative or literal): another Clegg “flower woman” here close to confessional, the wild justice or catharsis needed for past memories or “a long-forgotten fear”, essentially ‘unforgotten’: the lies of ‘dark spaces’, ‘tight spaces’, the lie of the Cadigan Eye again where you try to hide lies by aphasia or by Oatesian diaspora especially if those lies once started as stated promises: “undermines his few remaining certainties” – a ‘mine’ (belonging to me), for me, as I mentioned in another real-time review recently, being a form of burial of self: and, meanwhile, this story is this book’s lethally “epiphanic moment”.

A book I think I have plumbed only partially, as yet. A great anthology.

I shall now read the non-fiction matter in this book which will hopefully give me further food for thought; but, as is customary with all my real-time reviews, I shall not be back here again to review it. (15 Mar 12 – another 2 hours later)


4 thoughts on “*

  1. Thanks, Ellen. I know you wrote that comment before I had read the last three stories, so indeed I think I enjoyed it *all* 🙂

    Having now read the ebook’s introduction, I wish I had thought of the ‘eye for an eye’ connection in revenge!


  2. I’ve enjoyed seeing the book through your eyes– It’s been a very long time since I’ve read the stories and wrote the introduction.
    Thank you.

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