This book is a kick ass collection of weird and dark stories. In the very best tradition of weird tales, Robert Aickman and Thomas Ligotti among them, this collection stands tall.
There's some nihilism here, there's some Lovecraftian angles here and then almost smack dab in the middle, there's some major laughs. I think the lighter story was perfectly placed, because my main complaint about the last Ligotti collection I read was that it was too nihilistic, resulting in the urge to kill myself about halfway through. Mr. Hamantaschen wisely avoids this.
Nearly every story in this collection worked for me but my favorites were:
Endemic An imaginative tale about a creative way to catch perpetrators of a certain type of crime.
There's Always Something in the Misfortune of Our Friends That Doesn't Displease Us Focused on IT,(Something Gleeful), and its focus on the horrible patterns we humans get into in our daily living and then using those patterns to achieve its horrible goals. The storytelling style here was absolutely perfect and I loved it.
Nothing This one worked well for me and that's all I'm going to say.
There Must Be Lights Burning Brighter, Somewhere The last story in the collection and the longest. Some killer descriptions here of horrific events (the girl's back? WTF was that?) and the guilt (?) that plagues the survivors. A powerful story, both in description and creativity.
Lastly, the aforementioned funny story: "Jordan, When Are You Going To Settle Down, Get Married and Have Us Some Children?" I don't even know what to say. Horrifically funny doesn't seem to cover it, but there you have it, just the same.
Overall, I adored this collection. I feel like I do need to mention that there were a number of small errors in the edition I received. Normally that irks me, and it did here, but the stories were just so damn good, I was able to overlook them. That's the ONLY complaint I have about this sublime collection.
I HIGHLY recommend this book for fans of weird tales, such as those by Ligotti and Aickman, and to fans of short stories, in general. Bravo J.R. Hamantaschen! Bravo!