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The second collection of stories about Kyle Murchison Booth. It was available in a very, very limited edition as a fundraiser, so in order to get it you're going to have to either borrow it from somebody who has one, locate one of the libraries somebody bought one for, or pester the author to hope the author brings out another edition. I read [personal profile] sovay's copy. All four stories have, however, appeared in other places, so you could theoretically track them down individually and read them that way. And of course the first collection, The Bone Key, is readily findable.

So the awesome thing about Kyle Murchison Booth is that basically what Monette has done here is sat down and said 'so what if all of the subtext that could exist in a short story by H.P. Lovecraft were made explicit and worked with by the author and also did not suck?' Booth is your typical Lovecraftian protagonist, too literate for his own good, sickly, socially inept, working in a museum which keeps having uncanny bequests and acquisitions; also fundamentally a decent sort, but with some damaging assumptions and gaps of knowledge about both the world and the workings of his own heart. One of the stories in The Bone Key just breaks me, 'Elegy for a Demon Lover', the one about how there's losing your soul and then there's losing your soul, and it isn't an easy choice.

Being Booth, the three short stories and one novella in this collection are all at least good, although I find two of them minor compared to the other two-- 'The Yellow Dressing-Gown' is actually doing exactly what it appears to be on the surface, so it's fun but therefore something I've read, and 'The Replacement' is a completely reasonable little familial horrorshow but again, I feel as though I've seen this sort of thing before.

'White Charles', however, starts as one sort of story (and one I like, with a bit of a nod to Leiber's Our Lady of Darkness; you can make a lot of creepy things out of paper, out of books) and then turns into a different story entirely, one which is not remotely one I've read before and which is a lot more nuanced and ironic and both kind of hopeful and recognizant of the fact that Rome was not built in a day.

And 'The World Without Sleep' is not 'let's redo Lovecraft', it's 'let's redo Thomas de Quincey via The City of Dreadful Night', in that Booth gets swept out of his own world entirely and into one with angels who are not what you expect and vampires who are not what you expect and factories which aren't what you expect either, and I really hope she keeps going in this direction because seriously, this is such good writing, here is the first paragraph:

In the January that I turned thirty-five, sleep became a foreign and hostile country. I had never been more than what one might call a refugee in the country of sleep; one of my earliest memories is of my nurse telling me that if I did not go to sleep, the goblins would get me, and of waiting all that night for the goblins to appear. They did not, of course, but even so I am not sure that she was wrong.

If that does not both intrigue you and make you happy, then, well, I am sorry that we have such antithetical tastes in fiction. The economy and grace with which this sets up more of the rest of the story than you think it does is lovely.

I could be biased, mind you, I admit that freely, I will read anything with blind angels in it, I unironically like Barbarella for that reason, but I think this is genuinely good, and different both from the rest of the world generally and the rest of Monette.

So you're not going to be able to find the book, but 'The World Without Sleep' was in Postscripts 14, Spring 2008, and 'White Charles' has been anthologized in The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2010, so maybe that helps, and you really should track those two down. Hopefully we will get a bigger collection someday, and hopefully it will not be in too long a time.


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