This collection was one of the free books handed out to all Capclave attendees this year - and it was an interesting choice.
Interesting because John Shirley claims not to be a genre writer - and his foreword admits that half of the stories in this volume contain no elements of the "fantastical" (used here to also cover science fiction). Which is true, but I would call all of the stories here horror, of varying kinds. Horror does not have to be fantastic (in fact, some of the most scary horror movies are not fantastic. Silence Of The Lambs, anyone? The Hand That Rocks The Cradle?)
Call it horror, then, for want of a better term. Unfortunately, I've had to come to the conclusion that I don't like John Shirley. He has a very distinctive and vibrant voice - which I simply happen not to like. Not his fault, but I'm only human and can only review on my own reactions. He's too literary for me, too wordy.
There was one exception. The second to last story, "My Victim," really drew me in - in the highly disturbing way of the very best psychological horror. It was worth plowing through the rest to get to that one.
My comments don't reflect on the quality of the book. They reflect my personal taste - and because of that I'm not giving this volume a star rating but rather a "judge for yourself."