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Cry Murder! in a Small Voice

September 2013. A new chapbook from Greer Gilman.

London, 1603.

Ben Jonson, playwright, poet, satirist . . . detective?

Someone is murdering boy players and Jonson, in the way that only Greer Gilman could write him—”Fie, poetastery.”—is compelled to investigate.

Cry Murder! in a Small Voice is a dense poetic novella that mesmerizes, horrifies, and fascinates.

Cover by Kathleen Jennings.

 An excerpt:

“The Devil is an ass, I do acknowledge it.”
—Ben Jonson

Venice, 1604

A coil of scarlet round the sweet boy’s neck: swan-white he lay, his whiter smock outspread as snow, his hand—O piteous!—imploring still. Venetia dead. Above her stood her lord and lover, still as if he held the loop of cord. A silence—

Mummery, thought Ben, remembering. The play was trash. Unworthy of the getting up, the less at court. ’Twas tailor-work: a deal of bombast and a farthing lace. And yet these shadows haunted him, foreshadows of an act unseen: the boy, not feigning now; the sullied smock; the cord. The Slip-Knott drew him in, inwove him in a play of shadows; now had tugged him halfway to Byzantium in its service. Enter Posthumus: a player-poet with a hand in Fate. Though he’d a quarrel to his fellow maker, History: that it wanted art. To lay a scene in Venice, helter-skelter—! Bah. The unities—But soft. The tyrant speaks.

Greer Gilman’s mythic fictions Moonwise and Cloud & Ashes: Three Winter’s Tales have (between them) won the Tiptree, World Fantasy, and Crawford Awards, and have been shortlisted for the Nebula and Mythopoeic awards. Besides her two books, she has published other short work, poetry, and criticism. Her essay on “The Languages of the Fantastic” appears in The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature. A graduate of Wellesley College and the University of Cambridge, and for many years a librarian at Harvard, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She likes to quip that she does everything James Joyce ever did, only backward and in high heels.

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