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Review by
Mike Oliveri
Black Evening
by David Morrell
Cemetery Dance
345 pages $40.00
ISBN: 1881475859
Warner Books
439 pages $7.95
ISBN: 0446608645

I first saw the movie FIRST BLOOD when it hit theaters back in 1982. I was a wee seven years old at the time (that's right, the old man weaned me on action, sci-fi, and horror flicks - wasn't much later that I became addicted to Carpenter's THE THING), but it's a movie that's stayed with me and I've seen several times over the years (and no, I've never been a fan of the sequels).

So what's that got to do with this review? I find few people realize this (at least, outside the genre), but David Morrell wrote the novel that movie was based on. Not only that, but he's written other novels. And short stories. And, he's even a card-carrying member of the Horror Writers Association! Well, he will be when we actually get membership cards... I'm not one to seek out novels of movies all the time, because normally it results in disappointment in one or the other. Mostly, it ruins the movie. But I did figure it would be cool to get a hold of some of his other works. I picked up 999 and found he had a great short story inside, and now that I received his collection, BLACK EVENING, for review, I'm happy to say the search paid off.

The first thing to stand out for me was Morrell's foreword. He gives us a solid idea of his background, and the things that helped move him along as a writer and get his career started, without getting on a high horse to do it. He then goes on to write a short introduction for each story, most often to tell us where the inspiration for each came from. In many cases, we find he based the stories on actual events. Morrell is also a solid writer.

His stories are crisp and concise, with a no-nonsense delivery that lacks the flowery prose of a lot of short fiction. The stories are, for the most part, about the human side of horror. Straight man vs. man or man vs. nature type stories, rather than demons and monsters stalking people through dark rooms and misty streets. The supernatural does make an appearance ("The Storm" comes to mind), but even then characterization and the story itself are the prime movers, not the special effects. In many cases, they could make a decent TWILIGHT ZONE or OUTER LIMITS story. A perfect example is "The Typewriter," also one of my favorites from the collection. In it, a spoiled, wannabe writer gets a hold of an old typewriter that churns out manuscripts on its own. It doesn't matter what he types, other words appear on the page. And they become bestsellers. But when the pressure's on for him to deliver, it breaks down, and when he has to find the manufacturer to get it fixed, he gets one of those moral lessons.

Definitely a solid work, and another writer I'll have to add to my ever-growing "to-read" pile. I give BLACK EVENING four bookwyrms.


This review copyright 2000 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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