“Stretch[es] the boundaries of the genre...It’s horrifying, but there’s beauty.” —The New York Times
“One of the field’s most accomplished short story writers.” —The Washington Post
A gripping collection of six stories of terror—including the novella “The Visible Filth,” the basis for the upcoming major motion picture—by Shirley Jackson Award–winning author Nathan Ballingrud, hailed as a major new voice by Jeff VanderMeer, Paul Tremblay, and Carmen Maria Machado—“one of the most heavyweight horror authors out there” (The Verge).
In his first collection, North American Lake Monsters, Nathan Ballingrud carved out a distinctly singular place in American fiction with his “piercing and merciless” (Toronto Globe and Mail) portrayals of the monsters that haunt our lives—both real and imagined: “What Nathan Ballingrud does in North American Lake Monsters is to reinvigorate the horror tradition” (Los Angeles Review of Books).
Now, in Wounds, Ballingrud follows up with an even more confounding, strange, and utterly entrancing collection of six stories, including one new novella. From the eerie dread descending upon a New Orleans dive bartender after a cell phone is left behind in a rollicking bar fight in “The Visible Filth” to the search for the map of hell in “The Butcher’s Table,” Ballingrud’s beautifully crafted stories are riveting in their quietly terrifying depictions of the murky line between the known and the unknown.
Ballingrud (North American Lake Monsters) offers six skillfully created, deeply disturbing stories in this collection of the uncanny. In "The Butcher's Table," original to this volume, a 19th-century ship bears diabolist Martin Dunwood of the Candlelight Society and his bodyguard, Rufus Gully, on a journey to the borders of hell. The title is the name of the ship, and also refers to the sacrifices Dunwood and Gully's fellow Satanists plan to offer upon arrival if they can evade supernatural pursuit and survive infighting long enough to reach their destination. "The Diabolist," a short, sharp, nasty story of metaphysics and monstrous relationships, is a standout. "The Visible Filth," the basis for the forthcoming film Wounds, is a contemporary tale of a slowly creeping, inevitable surrender to horrors discovered via a forgotten cellphone in a New Orleans bar. "The Maw" is an even darker vision of a metropolitan area lost to unnatural denizens. Ballingrud occasionally includes horrific actions simply for their own sake, which may frustrate readers looking for deeper meanings, but his evocative and strangely beautiful descriptions of the grotesque and terrible are sure to linger long after they are read.