This short story collection navigates dark spaces, intertwining life with death and art. His characters seek enlightenment in music, literature, painting and photography, but they also find darkness—something menacing, magical and obscure. Art is a spirit board allowing them to contact shades from the past, or to discover danger in the shadows.
A man keeping vigil at the bedside of his dying lover hears jazz that reminds him of a girl he lost long ago. At a late-night coffee shop, a professor clings to the diary of a dead man, but it fails to give him the protection he's longing for. A girl wrapped up in the wonders of a book tumbles down the stairs and wakes up in a world beyond her dreams. A refugee paints the last picture the world will ever know.
Lyrical and haunting, these twelve stories (ten published here for the first time) explore the tenderness and ter- rors of life. They invite us to a place where the worlds of the living and the spirits of the lost blend in a seamless new reality. And when the end finally comes, Mother Night is kind.
1918. In the dying days of World War I, the Spanish Flu devastates the small town of Incarnation, Texas. The sheriff closes the church and quarantines the dying in the schoolhouse. The townsfolk huddle alone in their houses to avoid infection. Each new day brings fresh corpses.
But something worse than the flu is coming.
Verge Strömberg, son of the domineering town pastor, is a sickly boy who lives in a world of books. His mother disappeared when he was seven, his older brother ran away. Now his father leaves him to tend a church in another county.
That's when the Muladona begins to visit him.
Every night, the Muladona, a doomed soul transformed into the Devil's mule, visits Verge and forces him to listen to a horrific tale. Each night, as Verge huddles under his bed sheets, the monster's supernatural tales tear his soul apart.
Verge's search for the demonic creature's true identity leads him through the dark history of Incarnation, from the murder of the Indians by the Spanish settlers, to the disappearance of his mother.
In the end, Verge will have to confront the Muladona alone to rescue the memory of his mother and to save his immortal soul.
When civil servant Miguel Ibañez stumbles across it at a strange second-hand bookshop, he first believes it's the ravings of a mad man.
But what if it is true? What if the anonymous author has really learned the secrets of controlling time? Could Miguel acquire the same skills and thereby correct the incongruities in his own life?
Trapped in a mediocre job at a forgotten Ministry, his marriage falling apart, Miguel desperately searches for more hidden entries. He is led on an increasingly frantic chase through the bookstores, abandoned buildings and dark subways of Buenos Aires.
Miguel's obsession brings him to the doors of the Saint Perpetuus Club, a secret society that holds the key to the salamanca, the cave where the Devil grants all wishes . . . for a price.
The deeper Miguel goes, the more he wonders whom he can trust. His wife, his friends, his old philosophy professor? Perhaps they are all members of the Club?
Is Miguel willing to risk his life, even his immortal soul, to uncover the secrets of The Saint Perpetuus Club of Buenos Aires?
The boy in the hoodie lowered the gun barrel until it was touching Vanessa's head. All she wanted was to be swallowed by the earth, to disappear and be forgotten . . .
Dead of winter, northern Ohio. Vanessa Wilcox drops out of college to care for her bed-ridden father and keep her parents' diner afloat. It's a life she longs to escape.
Suddenly, she's thrust into a violent hostage situation, along with John Danvers, a troubled, older man with severe OCD. The bloody incident forges a strange bond between the two, leading them to investigate a teenage girl's long-forgotten disappearance.
The missing girl's disturbed father is convinced she's been killed and that Danvers can communicate with her spirit, and he'll stop at nothing to avenge her death.
To solve the crime, Vanessa navigates a maze of frozen landscapes, repossessed houses and family secrets. She must tread a dangerous line between madness and truth, to find whether there is a murderer in her neighbourhood or just an anxiety of ghosts . . .
In 1977 "Julia" became one of the 30,000 victims of Argentina's most recent military dictatorship. Julia was a young physician and mother-to-be kidnapped from a medical clinic and found years later in a clandestine grave along with 334 other corpses. Who were these thousands of victims? Who was Julia?
By reconstructing the life of one victim, Eric Stener Carlson gives voice to the thousands of citizens who were "disappeared." Ironically, in doing so, he must use the pseudonym "Julia" for this young woman to protect the people she left behind. The pieces of Julia's story come together through the emotional and poignant memories of those who knew her--childhood friends and family, classmates and colleagues, an ex-lover, and fellow prisoners whose lives intersected with hers in the government torture centers. Interspersed between the personal testimonies are the voices of others who give her story a political and social context. They include a military general, a priest, a politician, a human rights activist, and a prosecuting attorney in the war crimes tribunal.
Carlson creates a personalized account that addresses not only the atrocities of Argentina's Dirty War, but human rights transgressions throughout Latin America and the world. It is impossible to read this story and not come away with a profound sense of human tragedy and personal suffering associated with repressive government policies everywhere.