Book Title: The End of The End of Everything (a story collection)
Author(s): Dale Bailey
Release Date: April 07, 2015
Publisher/Imprint: Arche Press,
an imprint of Resurrection house
Number Pages: 240
‘The End of The End of Everything’ is the latest
collection of short stories written by fiction author, Dale Bailey.
Dale Bailey has been writing speculative, weird, and horror fiction stories
since about 1993, and it’d be a formidable challenge to find anything under his
name as not being well penned. At the same time, it seems uninspired to say
story after story of his is great, great, and great again. Yet this is the
position a reader may find themselves upon closing the final page of this book,
as every tale in this collection is outstanding, and only in varying degrees of
excellence do they surmount each other.
The immediate caveat, of course, is to say that this book is not for everybody.
It is not filled with twists or shocks, but rather a slow, winding dread. Dale’s
writing is smart, and it is literary in a dark genre not known for plumbing the
depths of social issues nor of the greater human condition, especially while
marrying a speculative slant. His stories can be quiet, abstract, even at times
a bit pretentious, yet each is beautiful and meaningful like looking upon a
strange painting that provokes simultaneous feelings of aversion and
This collection contains the following nine stories:
“The End of the World as We Know It” – The musings of an apocalyptic survivor
as he sits on his porch, contemplating love, self, and all the ways the world
“The Bluehole” – A melancholy coming-of-age story about a boy discovering his
sexuality and the legends of a lake with no bottom, set in the caustic town of
a 1980s mining company.
“The Creature Recants” – A magnificent insight into the ‘Creature From the Black
Lagoon’, in which the amphibious beast waxes poetic upon his tribulations in
“Mating Habits of the Late Cretaceous” – A science fiction time travel story,
filled with dinosaurs, exploration, and marital healing. One of the best in the
book, if at least for the author’s exquisite descriptive prose of the cretaceous
era and all its glorious inhabitants.
“A Rumor of Angels” – An achingly sad tale about a depression-era boy who
leaves his desolate Texas farm and hitches a ride with strangers, searching out
a better life on the west coast, and perhaps something more.
“Eating at the End-of-the-World Café” – The despairing mother of a sick child
must make ends meet any way she can, even if that means waitressing at a
restaurant next to ‘The Pit,’ a hellish analogy for... Hell. She sees only
gloom, but hopes for something better to come along.
“Lightning Jack’s Last Ride” – An imagined near-future in which the nation is
at war with itself, and oil is the most valuable commodity; told as a flashback
by an aged gang member-narrator who participated in hijacking the oil tankers.
“Troop 9″ – One of the darker stories in this collection, a small town girl
scout troop runs away and becomes feral.
“The End of the End of Everything” – In a world of ruin, bohemian survivors pursue
the lusts of sex, drugs, and suicide parties. An oddly hopeful contemplation,
as sickening as it is enthralling.
This collection is enthusiastically recommended to fans of dark
fiction that crosses both genre and literary. Dale Bailey’s writing may be found
similar to other contemporaries, such as Laird Baron, Steve Rasnic Tem, Tanith
Lee, and Lisa Tuttle.
Review first written for New York Journal of Books: http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/end-end-everything
Eric J. Guignard