Friday, November 25, 2005

Leigh Kennedy

Picked up a dollar copy of The Best of Shadows edited by Charles Grant the other day at a library dollar bin. Grant, a good writer, prefers "quiet horror" to say the noisy horror of the people I usually read and like, King, McCammon, etc. My problem with quiet horror is that it's sometimes so quiet it puts me to sleep. I can think of two exceptions immediatly, "A Certan Slant of Light," which is one of the most stunning short "stories I've ever read. Mr. Grant published it in one of his early Shadows volumes. The other is one I read today in Best of . The Silent Cradle," by Leigh Kennedy, Shadows 6, 1983 (World Fantasy Award nominee) is, for me, the perfect horror story. I wish most horror stories were as clean, cunning and stylish as this one--certainly including my own. A family suddenly becomes aware that they have a new baby. Not even Mom can remember having it. Well, they think they have a new baby anyway. As the years pass, the school teachers tell them they have a third child, the doctors tell the same and so do the two family's other two kids. There's a whole paper trail for numbr three but nobody can exactly remember ever seeing it. The rising horror--the hint that these people may well be clinically insane--stokes the grief and panic of everybody involved. What is going on here? I say what I always say when I want to pay another riter the ultimate compliment--Lord, do I wish I'd have written this.

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