American Morons (2006)
A collection by Glen Hirshberg
Story notes by Glen Hirshberg
Art by Jonas Yip
SYNOPSIS: From the author of the acclaimed novel THE SNOWMAN'S
CHILDREN and the award-winning collection THE TWO SAMS comes AMERICAN
MORONS, a new collection of dazzling and haunting tales
Two traveling college students confront their disintegrating relationship
and the new American reality in a breakdown lane along the Italian
superstrade. A woman chases the ghost of her neglectful father to
a vanished amusement park at the end of the Long Beach pier. Two
recently retired teachers learn just how much Los Angeles has taken
In these atmospheric, wide-ranging, surprisingly playful, and deeply
mournful stories, grandkids and widows, ice cream-truck drivers
and judges, travelers and invalids all discoverand sometimes
even survivethe everyday losses from which the most vengeful
ghosts so often spring.
AMERICAN MORONS has been published in the following editions:
|150 numbered hardcovers, bound in cloth or
bonded leather with higher quality endpapers than in the trade
hardcover, and signed by Glen Hirshberg on an illustrated limitation
|15 lettered, traycased hardcovers, hand made with the finest materials (e.g., leather, Japanese cloth, handmade Japanese paper, and/or French marbled paper), and signed by Hirshberg.
Praise for AMERICAN MORONS
"Fear may be the most primal and universal emotion, but as Hirshberg demonstrates in this new story collection, it’s also quite personal. The things that frighten Hirshberg’s characters—whether they be children mourning their grandfather or 19th-century surveyors—are deeply psychological and rooted in the author’s nuanced and oddly gentle portraiture."
—TIME OUT CHICAGO
"A keeper among this season's offerings is AMERICAN MORONS, a second collection of seven ingenious ghost stories from Glen Hirshberg. Mr. Hirshberg specializes in revealing how the past impinges horrifically upon the present, smashingly in the title story about American tourists stranded on an Italian country road until a chance "rescue" that isn't what it initially seems; and a brisk account of a retiring teacher's day-trip on the shuttle service ("Transitway") that appears to be conveying him to a reunion with his long lost family. Even better are the story of secrets discovered by two young boys who mischievously explore the crowded house owned by their late beloved grandfather ("The Muldoon"); and a superb period piece ("Devil's Smile"), in which a lighthouse inspector encounters a lonely woman whose explanatory tale of death at sea, survival and grief opens an unwanted window on stories perhaps better left untold."
—The Washington Times
"His characters hold the long coil of human life in their hands and examine how the commonplace can spiral into a shimmering half-truth.... [These] finely wrought tales of suspense reaffirm what Hirshberg teaches in his title story, and which Poe, too, believed: that the most horrifying monsters are those that walk among us."
—Los Angeles Times on AMERICAN MORONS
"Hirshberg's skill at drawing horrors out of commonplace situations peopled with credibly drawn characters distinguishes these subtle tales of the uncanny as some of the most effective and chilling in contemporary weird fiction."
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Hirshberg splashed big with the five unconventional ghost stories in THE TWO SAMS. The stories in AMERICAN MORONS amplify the impact. More than anyone else published and praised within the dark-fantasy genre, Hirshberg is a mainstream, middle-brow realist. A monster, ghosts, and the inexplicable turn up [in these tales] but not clumping, howling, or startling the characters like most horror-fiction bugaboos. Hirshberg is more concerned with the human heart and soul than with the supernatural."
"The pleasure in a ghost story is in the ending, and in the story’s ability to linger, like ghosts themselves, in the unlit rooms of the mind. By these two measures, Glen Hirshberg’s AMERICAN MORONS is a collection of great ghost stories, though not all of them contain elements of the supernatural. Either way, the author’s strength is in his ability not to shock or even scare, but to create characters who are genuinely haunted and whose stories have an afterlife in their reader’s consciousness."
“Hirshberg's AMERICAN MORONS is a finely crafted collection and a perfect example of the power and range of what can be called either literary fiction or horror fiction, depending on where you find it. It draws on the heritage of Shirley Jackson and Edgar Allen Poe, or Ramsey Campbell and Herman Melville. AMERICAN MORONS is nothing less than the constantly sorry state of the world we must live in, of the lives we must lead, wrought in beautiful prose with a twisted sense of the imagination.”
—Rick Kleffel, The Agony Column
"With AMERICAN MORONS, Glen Hirshberg confidently shoulders
his way through the generational pack to claim his rightful place
on the summit. These stories are smart, challenging, ripe with feeling,
expansive in every way: Horror as it should be writ, and as only
the best and most expressive can write it."
Peter Straub, author of IN THE NIGHT
"Glen Hirshberg's stories are haunting, absolutely, but not
only because of the contentthe stories themselves haunt, they
stick around, they linger, inhabiting a little corner of the reader's
brain and resurfacing to evoke mystery or sadness or longing. It's
a pleasure to dive into Hirshberg's storytelling skills in AMERICAN
Aimee Bender, author of WILLFUL CREATURES
"AMERICAN MORONS is the work of an original. Like Hitchcock
or Ramsey Campbell, the style is precise, alert, and well-mannered,
inviting us to enter Hirshberg's private world so that he may lock
the door behind us. If there is anyone in contemporary fiction worth
watching, it is Glen Hirshberg."
Dennis Etchison, author of THE DEATH
"Hirshberg doesn't need the supernatural to cause his readers' skin to skip the crawling phase and move directly into a dead sprint."
—Los Angeles Times on AMERICAN MORONS
"A thoughtful collection of skillfully executed short stories that demonstrate his prowess as a writer. This is a collection to be savored, saved and enjoyed."
—Monsters and Critics
"AMERICAN MORONS, like THE TWO SAMS before it, is an excellent
collection in every way. Hirshberg is among the best short story
writers in, out of, or around, the genre of the fantastic. His fiction
is marked by clarity, depth and a restraint and subtlety that make
the horror and the wonder seem absolutely possible."
Jeffrey Ford, author of THE GIRL IN
"If you have ever been a fan of high quality short fiction you will find something to really enjoy in AMERICAN MORONS. Too many times I've read collections of short stories that contain their fair share of clunkers. You will find no such filler within these pages."
Praise for the work of Glen Hirshberg
"Hirshberg weaves a spell out of mood and place and creates
an atmosphere of tremendous tension, then when you're almost ready
to let out a long sigh
he springs and turns the tables and
lets out the terror. He's good, he is. Very, very good."
"Literate, thoughtful, and affecting."
"He is original and has real talent, and I truly fear that
one of these days he's going to put it all together."
San Jose Mercury News
"This is certainly one of the most remarkable debut collections
Cemetery Dance on THE TWO SAMS
"Hirshberg is a rising star."
"On the evidence of his first two books, Glen Hirshberg seems
able to do almost anything."
P R E S S R E L E A S E /
J A N U A R Y 4 , 2 0 0 6
Earthling Publications to publish Glen
Hirshberg's American Morons
Earthling Publications is proud to announce that it will be publishing
American Morons by Glen Hirshberg later this year. American
Morons is Hirshberg's second collection of short fiction, and
it will be released in both trade hardcover and signed limited hardcover
American Morons follows his International Horror Guild award-winning
collection, The Two Sams, which made Publishers Weekly
and Locus Magazine "best of the year" lists. The
Two Sams was hailed as "superb" (Elizabeth Hand),
"profound, literary, and chilling" (Los Angeles Times),
and "among the finest tales published over the past decade"
Hirshberg has been called "a writer to watch and to treasure"
by Peter Straub. Award-winning editor Ellen Datlow says of Glen's
fiction: "I've been an admirer of Glen Hirshberg's work since
I read his first story, 'Mr. Dark's Carnival.' While his specialty
is the ghost tale, every story is a gem, drawing the reader into
a variety of circumstances that are always made utterly convincing
as a result of skillful storytelling and deft characterization."
For his part, Hirshberg is "delighted and excited to have
a chance to work with Earthling again. The press has produced a
number of stellar and important books over the past few yearsMichael
Marshall Smith's More Tomorrow & Other Stories and Gary
A. Braunbeck's The Collected Cedar Hill Stories leap immediately
to mindand Paul Miller has established himself as one of the
more thoughtful and imaginative editor/publishers in the biz."
Earthling Publications has published books that have won Stoker,
International Horror Guild, and Tombstone awards and have been named
Locus Magazine Recommended Reads. Earthling itself won an award
for Best Specialty Press in 2004.
Additional details regarding American Morons will be forthcoming