So I said “um” a lot in my first ever radio interview. Oh well. Paul Di Filippo had great things to say about One for Sorrow in his review over at Scifi.com:
Surely the current era is a renaissance of ghostly tales. The work of Peter Beagle and Tim Powers and James Blaylock and Charles de Lint launched the new golden age of ghost stories. And more recently we’ve had excellent offerings from Graham Joyce, Joe Hill and Sean Stewart. Now up to the plate steps newcomer Christopher Barzak with his debut novel, a strong contender to join the ranks of these classics.
Barzak has made an impact with many stories in various venues, and he’s part of a new generation of writers coming at the genre with an “interstitial” or “slipstream” perspective that blends the fantastical with the mimetic. So it’s no surprise to find his debut novel well crafted, sensitive and literary, as well as suitably pulpy in places.
In a sense, this is the very path taken by the grandfather of such writing, Ray Bradbury, who long ago elevated what might have been “mere” Weird Tales material into high art.
Certainly Barzak’s Midwest setting and juvenile protagonist will summon up echoes of Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine (1957) conflated with some of Bradbury’s more gothic and gruesome excursions. But at the same time, Barzak explicitly models his book on Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (1951). Generally, this fusion of influences works quite well, with the spooky bits and the mimetic bits holding equal sway.
He also says he thinks the book is highly filmable, and invites hypothetical casting to occur. A review like this makes up quite nicely for my night of umming. 🙂