An unbelievably pithy and traumatic collection of dark, stark tales, The Dark Country travels on byways the reader might not otherwise ever want to explore – into the deepest recesses of the most obscure corners of the human psyche and experience. This being the second Etchison book in which I have indulged, I thought I knew somewhat what to expect, but he caught me shockingly off-guard again and again. This man’s work is a revelation; every word, every sentence, every paragraph crafted with the precision of a machinist, every piece of each story building upon one another with an almost unbearable intensity, leading the reader down the garden path to an always unpredictable conclusion. The author describes his own work best in the opening line of “The Walking Man:”
“It was one of those long, blue evenings that come to the Malibu late in the year, the water undulating up to the beach like some smooth, sleepy girl moving slowly under a satin sheet.”
Each of Etchison’s tales “undulate up to the beach” innocently enough, only to draw back swiftly, powerfully to the ocean depths – in with a whisper, out with a BANG! This is particularly true in the disturbing stories “Sitting in the Corner, Whimpering Quietly” and “Today’s Special.”
I will continue to read Mr. Etchison’s work; it is at once terrifying yet intellectually stimulating, irresistible and mysteriously satisfying – a must-discover for any serious lover of the written word.