Reassuring Tales: Expanded Edition
Pickman’s Press (November 26, 2021)
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
I don’t review a lot of books these days. Hell, I have a hard enough time reading for fun, as I edit quite a few anthologies and most of my reading goes to that. But every once in a while a book will come along that I can’t ignore, and if it’s a book that I really enjoy and think others (everyone?) will enjoy it too, then yeah, I’m going to talk about it. Or in this case, write about it. Right now that is this book, and how could I not like it? This is a collection of short stories by T.E.D. Klein and if that name just doesn’t jump up and kick you in the head…well I can’t blame you. You see, despite Mr. Klein being one of my all time favorite authors, and one of the best writers of horror and weird fiction ever, he’s not a household name. Part of that is the fact that he’s never been really prolific, and the other part is that he’s been largely silent for many years. But believe me, if you’ve ever read anything by T.E.D. Klein, then you already know how good he is at tale telling, and if you haven’t yet, boy, are you in for a treat.
Three cheers, then, to the small publisher, Pickman’s Press, for reissuing the woefully under-read, out of print, and now quite expensive Reassuring Tales from 2006, now in a much more available and expanded edition. The first edition by Subterranean Press had 10 stories; here you will find 12. In addition there are three poems, a short piece about Klein’s appreciation of Arthur Machen, copious amount of notes about the stories, and an interview with Mr. Klein from 2019.
So we have an out of print book back out and expanded, but the real reason to get this book, or any collection, is the stories, so how are they? Well, a mixed bag, actually, and I could not be more surprised. Yes, as much as I love Klein’s only novel, The Ceremonies, and his wonderful collection of four novellas, Dark Gods, his short fiction is kind of hit or miss with me. Now to be sure there are some absolute winners in here, including his masterful “The Events at Poroth Farm” which is worth the price of admission all its own. There is also “Growing Things,” the very fun “One Size Eats All,” and the nostalgia-laced “They Don’t Write ‘Em Like This Anymore” that I really enjoyed. The rest range from okay to good. Not one of the stories collected here totally drops the ball, but a few do feel somewhat less than Klein’s usual amazing output. Not bad in and of themselves, but a little disappointing when compared to T.E.D.’s other literary creations.
Even with this book not being the amazing slam-dunk I was hoping for, it is still a sure-fire winner. If you are a fan of T.E.D. Klein already, then getting this collection is a no-brainer. Any bit more from this illusive author is a good thing. If you are new to the stories of Mr. Klein, then this is a good place to start. All the stories work to some extent and maybe you won’t have set the bar so sky-high if this is your introduction to the man. Regardless, this book is worth getting for “The Events at Poroth Farm” alone, yes, the story really is that good, and if you combine that with the other standouts in here then I can easily recommend this one to all.