Big Dark Hole

A Jeffrey Ford story may start out in the innocuous and routine world of college teaching or evenings on a porch with your wife. But inevitably the weird comes crashing in. Maybe it’s an unexpected light in a dark and uninhabited house, maybe it’s a drainage tunnel that some poor kid is suddenly compelled to explore. Maybe there’s a monkey in the woods or an angel that you’ll need to fight if you want to gain tenure. Big Dark Hole is about those big, dark holes that we find ourselves once in a while and maybe, too, the big dark holes that exist inside of us.

Table of Contents

The Thousand Eyes
Hibbler’s Minions
Monster Eight
Inn of the Dreaming Dog
Monkey in the Woods
The Match
From the Balcony of the Idawolf Arms
Sisyphus in Elysium
The Jeweled Wren
Not Without Mercy
The Bookcase Expedition
The Winter Wraith
Big Dark Hole
Thanksgiving
Five-Pointed Spell

Praise for A Natural History of Hell:

“Ford specializes in employing vivid and precise language to portray the inexplicable, often with great intensity or deadpan humor. In his odd but compelling stories, strange things happen for reasons that are never made completely clear but that demand attention even as they grow ever more disturbing. A Natural History of Hell is an excellent sampler of Ford’s singular brand of storytelling, a baker’s dozen of diverse and diverting literary treats.”
— Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle

“Formally Ford’s stories are object lessons in how to stage a narrative.”
— James Sallis, F&SF

“In this collection of 13 stories, Ford showcases his award-winning talent for crafting creepy tales that bend the world as we know it in unexpected ways. Although the stories are not linked, they do share a common theme: wickedness lurking just beneath the surface of everyday life. And while each uses different degrees of the supernatural to get there, all employ a dark and uneasy atmosphere, quirky characters, and thought-provoking endings, with delightfully unsettling results. . . . This collection is a good choice for fans of short stories by Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, or Kevin Brockmeier.”
Booklist Online (starred review)

Publishers Weekly Best Books of Summer:
“Celebrated short-form fantasist Ford blends subtle psychological horror with a mix of literary history, folklore, and SF in this collection of 13 short stories, all focused on the struggles, sorrows, and terrors of daily life. Each tale gently twists perceptions, diving down into the ordinary and coming back out with a thoughtful nugget of the extraordinary. Readers will be alarmed by how easily they relate to the well-meaning but inevitably destructive characters.”

“Seamlessly blends subtle psychological horror with a mix of literary history, folklore, and SF in this collection of 13 short stories, all focused on the struggles, sorrows, and terrors of daily life.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“13 tales that revel in the dark and strange, exhibiting ardent and pliable storytelling that ranges from suburban exorcisms to ghosts in bucolic 1915 Ohio. Each story in this collection displays Ford’s vigorous invention and witty idiosyncrasy in explorations of the wicked and violent corners of the imagination, but the variety of subject, setting, and tone ensures that the book never slips into an authorial haze. . . . The entire collection has a zeal for imagination and an unabashed pleasure in both entertainment and graceful writing that is reminiscent of Ray Bradbury’s short fiction. Ford has a knack for choosing the precise words that evoke an image and leave enough room for it to bloom. “Later, the rain started in again. The sound and smell of spring came through the screen of their bedroom window while he dreamt in the language the angels dream in, and she, of the land without worry.”
Kirkus Reviews

“What distinguishes this collection of tales by New York fantasy writer Jeffrey Ford is its mix of eerie, sometimes violent subject matter and droll narrative voice; the juxtaposition of modern, ordinary settings and dialogue with the strange and the supernatural makes for memorable reading.”
Daily Hampshire Gazette

“‘The Blameless’ is . . . a perfect example of Ford’s eerie subversion of mundane life. In it, suburban parents have begun throwing their children exorcisms as rites of passage, and the premise delivers plenty of black humor and bone-dry social satire.”
— Jason Heller, NPR

“A series of hits that linger long after you’ve finished reading. The mundane seems fantastical when penned by Ford, and the fantastical dreadfully human. Stories range from surreal daily life, to epic fantasy, to Gothic Americana and far, far beyond. It’s hard to pick a favorite, so I recommend you read them all.”
RT Book Reviews ****

“An excellent collection of stories.”
Weird Fiction Review

“A truly outstanding writer.”
Locus

Throughout his bounteous career, Jeffrey Ford has fully figured out which experiments work, and in what direction; the miracle is that he has also figured out how to rewrite the rulebook with his own brand of magic.
— Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, IGMS

“Delightful, terrifying, thoughtful and incredibly well written. Jeffrey Ford’s style is eloquent and accessible, literary and engaging. His stories have an engrossing, almost mythological feel to them, strengthened by well-placed descriptions, impeccable pacing and Ford’s rare talent for delivering a satisfying ending.” — Catherine Grant, Huffington Post

“No one writes more beautifully about American nightmares and dreams. Every story is great but my favorites are ‘Word Doll,’ ‘Rocket Ship to Hell,’ ‘The Last Triangle,’ and — especially — ‘The Prelate’s Commission.’ Ford takes ideas that most writers would cling to and milk for three or four or five hundred pages and tosses them off left and right like they were nothing on his way to new worlds he seems to create out of thin air. If these stories weren’t so god damn enjoyable they’d make me jealous as hell.” — Ben Loory, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day

“Jeffrey Ford is a beautifully disorienting writer, a poet in an unclassifiable genre—his own.”—Joyce Carol Oates

“Jeffrey Ford is a true heir to his teacher, John Gardner—not only in his ability to inhabit an astonishing range of styles and different worlds with jaw-dropping verisimilitude, but also in the great-hearted compassion and depth that he brings to his characters. I have long admired and learned from his work, and I’m grateful to have these beautiful stories to contemplate.”—Dan Chaon

“Combining legend and suspense, terror and darkly comic social commentary, Jeffrey Ford brings our greatest fears to life in this terrific collection. A Natural History of Hell is jammed with stories I wish I had written.”—Kit Reed

Praise for Jeffrey Ford’s award-winning books:

“Outstanding. . . . Ford uses . . . incongruously lyrical phrases to infuse the everyday with a nebulous magic.”—Publishers Weekly, Best Books of the Year (Starred Review)

“For lovers of the weird and fantastic and lovers of great writing, this is a treasure trove of disturbing visions, new worlds and fully realized craft.”—Shelf Awareness (Starred Review)

“Properly creepy, but from time to time deliciously funny and heart-breakingly poignant, too.”—Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“Surreal, unsettling, and more than a little weird. Ford has a rare gift for evoking mood with just a few well-chosen words and for creating living, breathing characters with only a few lines of dialogue.” —Booklist

“Children are the original magic realists. The effects that novelists of a postmodern bent must strive for come naturally to the young, a truth given inventive realization in this wonderful quasi-mystery tale by Jeffrey Ford.” — Boston Globe on The Shadow Year

“Jeffrey Ford s latest triumph, The Shadow Year, is as haunting as it is humorous readers will recognize real talent in Ford s vivid, unerring voice.” —Louisville Courier Journal on The Shadow Year

“Spooky and hypnotic…Recommended for all public libraries.” — Library Journal

“[Ford’s] writing is both powerful and disturbing in the best possible way.” — io9.com

“The 16 stories in this collection are a perfect introduction to Ford’s work and illustrate the vast range of his imagination . . . If you haven’t discovered Ford, it’s time you did. His carefully crafted novels and short stories are all top-notch. Grade: A.” — Rocky Mountain News

Jeffrey Ford was born on Long Island in New York State in 1955 and grew up in the town of West Islip. He studied fiction writing with John Gardner at S.U.N.Y Binghamton. He’s been a college English teacher of writing and literature for thirty years. He is the author of nine novels including The Girl in the Glass and five short story collections, including A Natural History of Hell. He has received multiple World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson awards as well as the Nebula and Edgar awards among others. He lives with his wife Lynn in a century old farm house in a land of slow clouds and endless fields.

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