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1.03.2011

Ultimate Anthology: "Voluntary Committal"

Joe Hill is one of the best new voices out there right now in dark fiction. His novels have been strong, but his short fiction is almost pitch perfect. Twentieth Century Ghosts is one of those collections that begs to be read yearly, if for no other reason than to inspire.

I think the fourth tale I'll collect for the ultimate anthology is his story "Voluntary Committal." This is a perfect specimen of the American weird tale. The postulate is compelling, the solution is bone-chilling, the relationship between Morris and our narrator is--well, it's a well-rendered sibling relationship. Not quite Howard and Bow-Wow Fornoy, but it'll do. Here's what I wrote in my Amazon review many moons ago:

"Voluntary Committal" goes into my all-time anthology. It's a novella about assuaging the mistakes of our youth. Consider all the things you wish you could take away: all the wrongs you've done others, all the hurt you've instilled upon those who've trusted you, all the chances you passed that you wished you'd taken. Think about all of those things and then ask yourself:

What would you change if you could go back?

For our narrator Nolan, the answer to that question rests in a sealed manila envelope in the lower right drawer of his office desk.


And there you have it: officially put into my all-time anthology. I'm paying professional rates in compliments in exchange for first world wishful-thinking rights.

Here's the Anthology to Date:

"Voluntary Committal" ~ Joe Hill

"The Pear Shaped Man" ~ George R.R. Martin
"The Small Assassin" ~ Ray Bradbury
"Professor Gottesman and the Indian Rhinoceros" ~ Peter S. Beagle

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