Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

John Shirley

New Noir
by John Shirley

Price: $9.95


About the author:

John Shirley was born in Houston, Texas in 1953 but spent the majority of his youth in Oregon. He has been a lead singer in a rock band, Obsession, writes lyrics for various bands, including Blue Oyster Cult, and in his spare time records with the Panther Moderns. He is the author of numerous works in a variety of genres; his story collection Heatseeker was chosen by the Locus Reader's Poll as one of the best collections of 1989. His latest novel is Wetbones.

About New Noir:

In New Noir, John Shirley, like a postmodern Edgar Allan Poe, depicts minds deformed into fantastic configurations by the pressure, the very weight, of an entire society bearing down on them. "Jodie and Annie on TV," selected by the editor of Mystery Scene as "perhaps the most important story… in years in the crime of fiction genre," reflects the fact that whole segments of zeitgeist and personal psychology have been supplanted by the mass media, that the average kid on the streets in Los Angeles is in a radical crisis of exploded self-image, and that life really is meaningless for millions. In "I Want to Get Married, Says the World's Smallest Man," a crack prostitute's state of mind degenerates so far as to become entirely mechanical. These stories also bring to mind Elmore Leonard and the better crime novelists, but John Shirley - unlike writers who attempt to extrapolate from peripheral observation and research - bases his stories on his personal experience of extreme people and extreme mental states, and on his struggle with the seductions of drugs, crime, prostitution, and violence.


When Lulu woke, she had cramps. But it was the aftertaste of the dream that bothered her. There was a taintedness lingering in her skin, as if the nightmare of the giant mosquito had left a sort of mephitic insect pheromone on her. She took two showers, and ate her breakfast, and listened to the radio, and, by comforting degrees, forgot about the dream. When she west downstairs the building manager was letting the ambulance attendants in. They were in no hurry. It was the guy upstairs, the manager said. He was dead.

No one was surprised. He was a junkie. Everybody knew that.

Next day Lulu was scratching the skeeter bites, whenever she thought no one was looking.