"Best New Horror" by Joe Hill (from 20th Century Ghosts)
One of the reasons I like to mix up my reading, reading a variety of types of books and genres, is to avoid burn out. It'd be too easy to overdo it on one type of book and then nothing seems original or fresh. I would grow too critical and reading would lose some of its pleasure.
Eddie Carroll, editor of America's Best New Horror, has grown weary of the horror stories that come his way. Each year, it is his job to put together an anthology of horror stories. And with each year, he becomes less and less enthralled with the submissions. It is with great pleasure then that he finds "Buttonboy" in his mail. It is a "cruel and perverse" story, awful and beautiful. Carroll hasn't read anything that good in a long while and so he sets out to find the author to request his permission to include the story in that year's anthology. In "Best New Horror", Carroll lives and breathes horror and soon finds himself in the middle of what may just well become his own horror story.
Joe Hill's short story, "Best New Horror" is a perfect fit for this time of year. The story of "Buttonboy" is dreadfully horrific, playing on several horror cliches. It's not a story on its own I would enjoy, much less recommend, but told in the context of "Best New Horror", it is put into a context which is much more palatable--and enjoyable.
Joe Hill succeeds at creating a short story that says so much in so few pages. The reader gets a good feel for the main character, Eddie Carroll. And there is just enough story there to build up the suspense and bring the story to a pivotal ending without making the reader feel short changed. At least not this reader. While I wouldn't count "Best New Horror" among my favorites, it was an entertaining story and a good opener for the author's collection of stories, 20th Century Ghosts.
Read for the Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P.) Challenge.