Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Craig Gidney's A SPECTRAL HUE

I first met Craig Gidney at the Clarion Writers Workshop back in 1996. Of all the imaginative short stories workshopped during those six weeks, the one that sticks with me the most is Craig's "Zoe Coalrose" (eventually published as "Coalrose" in Craig's 2014 collection SKIN DEEP MAGIC). At that time Craig's phantasmagoric fiction struck me as a strange mixture of Italo Calvino, Tanith Lee, Jean Genet, and Toni Morrison. Years later, I was delighted to publish Craig's darkly humorous Southern Gothic story "Her Spirit Hovering" in the pages of RIPRAP #24. You can now find that tale in Craig's 2008 collection, SEA, SWALLOW ME. As I wrote in my Amazon review of SEA, SWALLOW ME, "If the music of The Cocteau Twins could somehow be converted into prose, it might read like the fiction of Craig L. Gidney." His use of the English language has become even more lyrical over time, as evidenced by his debut adult novel A SPECTRAL HUE, recently published by Word Horde.

I ordered A SPECTRAL HUE as soon as it was announced, and a copy arrived on my doorstep just the other day. Naturally, I did what any other Craig Gidney fan would do: I took the book with me to Disneyland and read the first two chapters while perched on an artificial Amanita muscaria mushroom in Pixie Hollow located in the dark depths of Fantasy Land. It somehow felt appropriate to be surrounded by the simulated weirdness of the Happiest Place on Earth while freebasing 100% Pure Weirdness via Craig's oneiric prose. Fortunately, you don't need to be under the influence of Uncle Walt's giant fiberglass psychedelic mushrooms to appreciate the dream-like, marshy world of Shimmer, Maryland (the mysterious setting of Craig's novel), as evidenced by this 6-20-19 NPR review of A SPECTRAL HUE by Jason Heller (who, I assume, has never imbibed an oversized Pixie Hollow mushroom).

I highly recommend purchasing a copy of A SPECTRAL HUE directly from the publisher, Word Horde, based in Petaluma, California.

This has been your reporter, Robert Guffey, addressing you from the pastoral environs of Pixie Hollow....

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