DEATH IN THE FAMILY
BUT COME BACK SOON, the sign said. Obviously it was a lie. The people in the grocery store just wanted to make sure he couldn’t buy the spice he needed to make the recipe he’d selected for that night (recipes must be followed exactly). Obviously they wanted him to eat out ... to meet the waitress, Marta, ... to see her horrible, unspeakable, unbearable ugliness. It was obvious to him: her maimed, twisted face was the living desire to be dead. He had to help Marta be dead.
His teeth are perfectly white. He can’t see colors. He keeps a combination lock on his door and has twelve shelves of cookbooks. His walls bleed blood. His suits each have a number, S-1 through S-6. And life goes on.
Life goes on, if you can stand it. Life goes on, for the brave and the damned.
Ed. Gréco, 1989
Dell / Abyss, 1991
“Compelling—a tour-de-force of storytelling and style . . . recalls the anonymous dereliction of David Lynch’s Eraserhead ... McDowell tells Toplin’s story with considerable artistry, marvelous pacing, and a welcome dose of macabre humor. His prose is clear, precise, and tightly controlled ... and his imagery ... startling and vivid ... McDowell has populated his underworld with as bizarre a cast of grotesques as you are likely to find outside a Fellini film ... In its power to transport the reader into a wholly insane mind, Toplin ranks with Stephen Gilbert’s Ratman’s Notebooks and Ramsey Campbell’s The Face That Must Die— distinguished company indeed.” — Fantasy Review
“One of the best writers of horror in this country.” — Peter Straub
“A cause for great rejoicing ... a first-person account of one man’s psychological nightmare ... succeed[s] so well in its atmosphere of profound alienation.” — Fangoria
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