I just discovered Joe Hill - and I'm glad I did. I found "20th Century Ghosts" in the bargain bin at Borders, and decided to give it a try. I don’t read a lot of short fiction. I find that I like to lose myself in a world for a few days, not just a few minutes. Still – sometimes there is a great idea that just won’t fill up a 300-page novel. Those ideas are like hermit crabs – they have to find a shell to live in, one that fits them. Too big, and they would remain immobile and uninteresting. In those cases, for those ideas, a short story is just the right size.
On balance, the stories in this collection are well worth reading. There’s very little filler, although I did not love everything. What I did love was Hill’s perspective on the horror genre. In these stories, you don’t find much in the way of standard horror fare. There are no demons, no aliens, no unstoppable psychopaths with hockey masks and machetes. What you find is a fulfilling juxtaposition between the ordinary world and extraordinary circumstances. In most cases, Hill treats the central conceit of the story as something completely plausible – and by doing so, brings a texture to the narrative that is both appealing and rewarding. (I think that the story “Pop Art” is the best example of this in the collection)
I can't wait to pick up "Horns" and "Heart-Shaped Box" to see what he can do with a full length novel.
If you are interested in my thoughts on each story, you can find them at: http://bit.ly/arjkbF