Starred Review, Shelf Awareness
Crackpot Palaceby Jeffrey Ford
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Speculative fiction has produced several great practitioners of the art of the short story whose critical acclaim matches that given to more traditionally "literary" writers. With his fourth collection of short stories, Crackpot Palace, Jeffrey Ford is positioned to join such luminaries as Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison in that inner circle.
Ford's stories are stuffed with so many ideas, weird scenes and startling denouements that it is hard to summarize them. In "Down Atsion Road," Ford mixes urban legend, a ghost story and the New Jersey Pine Barrens to chilling effect. While his inventiveness is unmatched, he is also a master of psychological realism. There is a gritty day-to-day aspect to some of his tales that adds a degree of verisimilitude to events most genre writers wouldn't have a clue how to sustain. In "Every Richie There Is," a mentally challenged neighbor's slow disintegration from cancer and madness is chronicled with devastating skill. Finally, Ford's sense of the place where the weird intersects with the beautiful is unsurpassed; "Dr. Lash Remembers" is a steampunk gem where dream, sickness and hallucination are layered into disorienting new patterns.
With Crackpot Palace, one has a chance to read a collection by a true master of the short story. For lovers of the weird and fantastic and lovers of great writing, this is a treasure trove of disturbing visions, new worlds and fully realized craft. --Donald Powell, freelance writer
Discover: 20 fantastic and disturbing visions, including the never-before-published "The Wish Head," from a master of the short story.
Kirkus Reviews --
The fourth collection of stories from Ford includes examples of fantasy, science fiction, neo-steampunk, noir and a few genre-busting curiosities.
The longest piece in the book, “The Wish Head,” is a haunted police procedural set in upstate New York in the mid-20th century. “The Double of My Double Is Not My Double” doubles down on the rich history of the doppelganger; it is funny, morbid and very clever. “Every Richie There Is” is a dry-eyed look at our inevitably mixed feelings about our neighbors. “Glass Eels” smarts like a sliver of glass under a fingernail. To all but one story, Ford adds a note. These notes pay homage to generous editors, describe flashes of inspiration, explain references and enlighten the ignorant. One note contains a bonus track, an additional story.
Ford finds his way into scenarios infernal, haunted or merely strange, and keeps his wits about him on the journey.
Library Journal Review of Crackpot --
Ford, Jeffrey. Crackpot Palace: Stories. Morrow. Aug. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9780062122599. pap. $14.99. F
Within the fantasy genre, Ford (The Shadow Year; The Girl in the Glass) is not a writer who is easily categorized. This collection showcases not only the range of his imagination but, based on his own notes describing the origins of many of the stories contained in this collection, also the depth and breadth of his personal interests in science, history, culture, and the human condition. Nor does Ford remain close to the shore of reality merely dipping a toe or finger into the fantastical from time to time. Instead, he wades—often waist-high or deeper—into the often murky waters, deliberately entangling his narrative in the inescapable undertow one finds there. It is here Ford’s writing skills truly shine as he deftly draws the reader into his tale—whether it be one of an ancient science experiment gone awry as in “The Dream of Reason” or the smoke-filled atmosphere of a Prohibition-era jazz club in “Polka Dots and Moonbeams.”
Verdict Recommend to readers willing to explore many facets of fantasy writing. [See Prepub Alert, 7/1/12.]—Nancy McNicol, Hamden P.L., CT
Monsters and Critics Review
Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror ReviewsBook Review: Crackpot PalaceBy Sandy Amazeen Jul 30, 2012, 2:41 GMT
This new book of from the Edgar Award winning author of The Girl in the Glass is Ford’s fourth short story collection that is certain to delight his fans and generate new ones. Ford’s imaginative writing almost always delivers a strange twist to what at the onset, seems like a perfectly ordinary story as demonstrated in “Daltharee” which begins with a thriving city in a glass bubble but turns into something else entirely. “Relic” tells the tale of Father Walter in charge of a church and relic at the end of the world. When a visitor takes a piece of the relic with her, Sister North sets out on a journey to the beginning of the world to get it back but is the precious item truly a relic and does it matter? In an attempt to fit in with his girlfriend’s family, a young man agrees to sit in church overnight with her recently deceased relative in “Sit the Dead”. What happened that night will haunt him for the rest of his life. Anyone who thinks daddy longlegs are cute, harmless spiders will reconsider after reading the chilling “Daddy Longlegs of the Evening”.
Although most of these were previously published, it is a delight to have them brought together. Each story includes background information about what served as inspiration, the intended message if any and where it first appeared in print. Ford excels at creating vividly imagined, finely nuanced characters and settings, frequently with an unexpected dark side that drags readers along on a short but exhilarating ride. These are great good fun and highly recommended.
Rajan Khanna's review "Like a Meaningful Dream" for TOR.com
Gary Wolfe's review for Locus Magazine