Tell Me When I Disappear: Vanishing Stories

Cemetery Dance. Apr. 2023. 152p. ISBN 9781587678684. pap. $17. HORROR
Shirley Jackson Award winner Hirshberg (Infinity Dreams) writes a new collection of short stories brimming with ultra-contemporary existential dread. “Black Legs,” the first story, follows a struggling documentarian who ventures into California’s suburban wilderness in search of a peculiar juror he served with weeks before. What he finds in the dark heart of an abandoned mall leaves him ruminating on “the people and moments that attach to us as we pass like ticks…” In the powerful and haunting title story, an aging teacher leading a retreat for teens in the Mojave Desert comes to terms with just how much human nature seems to have changed over the course of her career. This collection positively seethes with a sense of recent and impending loss, and the moments of terror, when they arrive, are often swift and disorienting, for the characters and readers alike. From Tasmania to Rhode Island to the many extreme environments of California, these stories deal closely with the emotional toll of just how dispensable human life and the natural world have become in the present.
VERDICT Packed with slow-burn terror and dealing with deep questions, these stories will stay with readers.
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