Zencore is the latest manifestation of writer, editor D.F. Lewis. Though his name appears nowhere between the pages, and he has not (as far as I know) written a line in the thing, it is non-the-less a thing no one else could have produced, as his sensibilities permeate the book from beginning to end.
It is a collection of semi-anonymous short stories. I say semi-anonymous, because we are told who the authors in the book are, but not which stories they wrote, unlike previous D.F. Lewis productions (Nemonymous) where the authors names were withheld until the following publication.
That being said, I decided to pick three stories at random and do mini-reviews, not bothering to mention which stories are attached to which thoughts (the titles are my own):
Strange and likable stuff with a title that, though not rolling off the tongue, does at least roll. While burdened with character names a wee bit too humorous for this reader, the prose and plotting are what critics would call ‘deft’ (not being a critic, I of course never use this word). In any case, Mr. Lewis has done well to put this one in print, and its bizarre aesthetics manage to give the fantastic a new sponge paint job.
The story in question is not at all bad. If it had been written by M.R. James could very well be very good. M.R James is no longer with us, but certain stylistic traits of his are. A painting painted just like a Renoir, by a contemporary painter, would not be the same as a Renoir, there being a time and place for everything. That said, the author is certainly capable, and for enthusiasts of tradition, vague chills and evenly-sliced ghastliness (there are many of you), disappointment will not be located in this quarter.
A story with an interesting premise. A phantasmagoria. A piece as good as any in the genre publications I have read this year. A bit of a change from the ‘Englishness’ of many of the other tales in the volume. Something opaquely political about this one? Recommended.
The book is a beautifully put together and, design wise, by far the prettiest of the Nemonymous ventures I have yet seen. The contents, though somewhat less adventurous than previous volumes, are solid and, in fact, this ever-so-slight shift to the more mainstream (slight I said!), as well as actually listing the names of the authors, might very well make the book a more marketable product. I believe that this one would appeal greatly to those who are fans of Tartarus Press and the other English small presses of the fantastic. It should also be mentioned that, despite the title, there are no stories featuring Buddhist monks, temples, burning incense or ducks flying south.
(Authors include Ursula Pflug, Mark Valentine, Dominy Clemens and Patricia Russo. The book costs £8, shipping anywhere in the world included. Payment in GB Pounds by PayPal to this email: firstname.lastname@example.org)