“Letters of Decline: Four Tales of Job Interview Horror” (Review)

The Conqueror Weird gives a very positive review to LETTERS OF DECLINE!

The Conqueror Weird


Letters of Decline: Four Tales of Job Interview Horror
by Joseph Pastula, Matthew M. Bartlett, Sean M. Thompson, and Jonathan Raab

Hello, everybody. Welcome back to the second installment of “What in Beelzebub’s unholy name have those Orford Parish Books boys gotten up to now?” You may remember the first time we looked at the exploits of Orford Parish Books, probably because it wasn’t too long ago as the blog flies. That post covered such diverse topics as murder houses, picture books, the American flag, and wrestling.

Now we zone in a bit on their most recent publication, a self-styled “split chapbook” entitled Letters of Decline: Four Tales of Job Interview Horror. As the title suggests, it contains four weird horror narratives, all of which relate to the nerve-wracking experience of a job interview. Orford Parish Books has not yet failed to pick a…

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HIVE by Alex Smith (Book Review)

A glowing review of HIVE from Splatterpunk Zine!


HIVE by Alex Smith (Muzzleland Press)

With HIVE, Alex Smith explores the world of urban paranoia with a Cronenbergian precision. The story follows the relationship of Mark and Carolyn as they try to piece things together following the decision to have an abortion. The act causes an emotional rift in their relationship, which they seek to close by moving out of their matchbox sized, loft apartment. As you can expect, it’s upon moving into their new apartment where things start to get creepy and weird. As to not spoil any more of the plot, let me just say that what follows is goddamn awesome.

Despite it’s short length, Smith manages to pack a whole lot of emotional realism in to the main characters and the rebuilding of their relationship. For all its paranoia, HIVE is a deeply human book. In that way, I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith was, along…

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The Lesser Swamp Gods of Little Dixie

Who Killed Orrin Grey?

swamps_godsI’m pretty new to the notion of being a big enough deal that anyone would even think that a blurb from me would go any distance toward helping sell their book (and probably still a long ways off from that actually being true). The first book I was ever asked to provide a blurb for was an odd choice, a fascinating nonfiction tome on the confluence of Lovecraft and actual occult practices called, reasonably enough, H.P. Lovecraft and the Black Magickal Tradition. I liked it, and said so, though I imagine that my poor blurb was overshadowed by praise from such luminaries as Cherie Priest, Nick Mamatas, and Richard Gavin, to name a few.

More recently, Jonathan Raab, publisher and proprietor of Muzzleland Press and my co-conspirator on the occasional CreatureFeatureConversation, asked me to read his latest novella, The Lesser Swamp Gods of Little Dixie

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there ain’t any charm in our little farm right in the middle of the swamp

A three-fold crossrip.

Turn to Ash


Let’s talk about “window areas.”

It’s an idea conceived by the late, great John A. Keel to describe the liminal spaces that connect parts of the Super Spectrum that are otherwise utterly separate. It’s an expansion on the idea of the “Super-Sargasso Sea” put forth by Charles Fort, father of the examination of the weird – the “damned,” he called it – in the real world. It’s a similar notion to how our world connects to the world of the sídhe – the mound elves – of Irish and Scottish mythology, and the basis for the Samhain festival. If you’re into the many-worlds interpretation of reality or brane cosmology, window areas are the spots where infinite soap bubble universes intersect and bleed into one another. It’s also the basically the same phenomena as the “thinnies” in Stephen King’s fiction.

It’s a concept I’m certain Jonathan Raab is familiar with. Practitioners of the…

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The Home Invasion – Part Two: Movies

By Alex Smith

You can read Part One: Novels, here. Alex Smith is the author of HIVE, an urban home invasion-bio-horror novella.

Below is the continuation of my brief exploration into the home invasion narrative. Here, I focus on film. I mentioned in my interview with Jonathan Raab that The Strangers had a major impact on me, which I discuss in a bit more detail here.

Again, here’s to hoping that you might find something of interest on this list.


Straw Dogs (1971) – dir. Sam Pekinpah

It wasn’t until HIVE was in its nth revision that I noticed the stunning similarities with Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs. A couple move to the UK countryside to build a home for themselves. Dustin Hoffman plays a mathematician. Mild-mannered, humble, and a man of the mind, his lack of physicality and cerebral nature become a target for the jibes and bullying of the locals working on his house—one of whom is his wife’s ex-boyfriend. Continue reading “The Home Invasion – Part Two: Movies”

the city can change so quickly: An interview with Alex Smith, author of HIVE

Alex Smith is the author of Muzzleland Press’ latest novella, HIVE, a Cronenbergian descent into urban paranoia, reproduction, body horror, abortion, and so much more.

Consider supporting the press by purchasing the book for Kindle here or in paperback.

What is HIVE?

HIVE is a short book about a couple that move to a nice new apartment in Queens, only to find their darkest fears about parenthood, life, death, and birth will be realized. HIVE is so short that saying more gives it away. I had this great experience of reading a short book called The Beckoning Fair One from start to finish on a flight from New York to Las Vegas. I wanted to write something that could be read in one or two sittings (with or without air travel) but that had enough substance to feel like a light meal, not a snack. I like to think of HIVE as a horror story where the characters matter as much as the horror.

Continue reading “the city can change so quickly: An interview with Alex Smith, author of HIVE”

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