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DARK CITY LIGHTS: NEW YORK STORIES
by Lawrence Block, ed.
Three Rooms Press, April 2015
390 pages
$18.95
ISBN: 1941110215


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Lawrence Block has a casual attitude about editing this volume of stories all set in New York City. His brief introduction includes an invitation, not to say an admonishment, to skip to the first story. Of course, the entire foreword oozes with ironic mock-modesty, so we need not take him altogether seriously. In any event, deciding on the order in which to place the stories did not demand too much editorial judgement - they are all, with one exception, listed alphabetically by title. The exception? Block's own contribution, of course.

The authors Block invited to contribute took more evident care in their submissions. Ed Park's "Amsterdam in the 90s" offers a creepy beginning story. "The Big Snip" by Thomas Pluck is a well-researched, entertaining tale about veterinary technicians that suggests a response to domestic violence. Warren Moore's "Bowery Station, 3:15 A.M." is a shocker. As promised, New York City could be considered a main character in these tales. "The Garmento and the Movie Star" by Jonathan Santlofer is set on 7th Avenue, New York's garment district, and could happen nowhere else. Told in the voice of a 12-year-old boy whose father runs a dress shop in 1962, the story features an encounter with none other than Marilyn Monroe. Robert Silverberg describes one of the most memorable days in history: May 5, 2003, the day aliens landed in New York City, in his "Hannibal's Elephants." "Midnight in the Park with Harry" finds statues coming to life in Central Park, thanks to Jane Detlinger's rich imagination. Bill Bernico introduces Bob and Sue Bergman in "This Pose Is a Problem." The couple comes to New York to photograph locations from favorite movies for a scrapbook they're compiling. Jill D. Block contributes "The Lady Upstairs," which reflects on the way neighbors are often perceived in a big city. If homicide is ever justified, it surely is in Peter Hochstein's "Why I Took the Job." The final story is Lawrence Block's "Keller the Dogkiller," in which someone offer Keller $10,000 to kill a dog. It's a story dog-lovers may find distasteful. Among the other authors who contributed to DARK CITY LIGHTS, you will also find David Levien, Eve Kagan, Tom Callahan, Annette Meyers, S.J. Rozan, Kat Georges, Brian Koppelman and Erin Mitchell.

Reading these stories one after another induces a certain feeling of unease. This reader at least ended up concerned about where humanity might be headed if these folks are representative. The title says it all - this is a dark city indeed.

Deb Shoss is a retired theatre producer/director, avid reader and former bookseller living in Lexington KY.

Reviewed by Deb Shoss, April 2015

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