I missed these reviews of CHIRAL MAD somehow

I won’t make any excuses. I try to hunt down reviews of books that I’m a part of because I like to know how my stuff is being received. I don’t see any shame in that, even to the extent that I do it, but I am a little surprised that I missed a couple of reviews about CHIRAL MAD.

From Claudia McCoy on November 25, 2012:

CHIRAL MAD, now available at Amazon.com.

CHIRAL MAD, now available at Amazon.com.

Being one of those bleeding heart liberals, I am always looking for a way to help out. CHIRAL MAD has earmarked all proceeds to charities that aid those with Downs Syndrome. That was the gravy. The real meat is the stories inside the anthology. An extra added delight, for me, was the careful placement of the stories. One story ends with a mother ending the life of her children and the next one is about a woman who is fighting to save her unborn child. It is a subtle but beautifully flowing juxtaposition of stories. Another story ends with a man speeding in his car, the next starts with boys careening around a room on a handcart. I’m not sure I’ve read another anthology that was as pleasingly edited as this one by Michael Bailey. It is chiral, by definition.

‘Chiral’ means that something is asymmetric in such a way that the structure and its mirror image are not superimposable. Just when you think you understand where the author is going, your realize the story has totally turned around, but not quite. I had to immediately reread some of the stories; they were that good. “The Shoe Tree” by Pat R. Steiner, for example, leads you to believe it is a monster story when in actuality, it is a heartbreaking tale of loss–almost. One of my other favorites was “Five Adjectives” by Monica J. O’Rourke. I am a teacher, so this story was uncomfortable but required reading. We are often too busy to read beyond the grammar and syntax to grasp what the child is really saying. I loved the formatting of the story, and as usual, Ms. O’Rourke’s prose is impeccable. Another favorite in this anthology was “Lost in a Field of Paper Flowers” by Gord Rollo. I love a good revenge tale and this one was good enough to have me retelling the story over dinner.

There are thirty great reasons to buy this anthology. Twenty eight of them are the stories it contains, the twenty-ninth is the editing, and the thirtieth is because you need to be looking out for your fellow travelers on this planet.

From Richard Wright on April 28, 2013:

A lot of charity anthologies aren’t very good. There, I’ve said it. A lot aren’t bad either, but it’s rare to find one that’s actually a superior book in its own right. CHIRAL MAD is raising money to support Downs Syndrome charities, and while that’s very worthy I don’t recommend that you buy the book for that reason. Instead, I recommend it as that rarest of things – a vastly superior collection of smart, stylish modern horror. You should buy and read it, because it’s a phenomenally good book. That’s all the reason you need. These stories show just how intelligent and relevant the horror genre can be when it frees itself from shock, gore, and an obligation to actually scare you. These are stories that look at your life and the world you live in, peel back the edges, and say something about what’s underneath. Like the best of science fiction, these are stories that comment on the world.

They’re fun too, and constantly surprising. My own highlights start with Meghan Arcuri‘s witty and disturbing “Inevitable”, which takes an entertaining body swap scenario and uses it to poke at what identity is. Gary McMahon delivers “Some Pictures In An Album”, in which photographs are examined for forgotten truths and tell a disturbing story full of blanks that you as the reader have to complete as you see fit. Gary Braunbeck gives snapshots of a different life that is rotting at the centre in “Need”. There are many more I loved. Amidst the twenty-seven tales here there were perhaps five that didn’t work for me at all, draping vast quantities of style over too little substance, but that’s a a staggeringly good hit rate. It’s a real pleasure finding the genre I love (but often get frustrated with, due to lack of ambition from so many practitioners) presented with such relevance and skill.

Read this.

No, I wasn’t singled out for praise in either of these reviews (unless you count an oblique reference in McCoy’s review to the boys on the handcart), but that’s really not the point. I read these reviews to see what strikes a nerve with the readers, what doesn’t work for them, and what really works for them.

If you haven’t read CHIRAL MAD, you really should. My fellow contributors really know how to spin a tale:

Published by Written Backwards, CHIRAL MAD is a charity anthology that has raised thousands of dollars for the Down Syndrome Information Alliance. Buy your copy here and be sure to leave a review. I promise I’ll read it.

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