Editor: Sarah E. Holroyd

Publisher: Sleeping Cat Books

ISBN-10: 0984679804: ISBN-13: 978-0984679805

The Storm is Coming, an adult Grimm’s Fairy Tales, would make a nice gift for just the right kind of person – perhaps someone on your Search & Rescue Team, a relative living in Hurricane Alley, or a co-worker whose car was buried by a blizzard.

The gathering of literary pieces on a single topic introduces 33 fine-tuned imaginations that interpret an impending storm as different things: thunder, lightning, wind and rain as actors on a stage; gentle animals sensing weather changes; the contagion of violence on farms; the gap between abuse and aloneness; golfers engaged in deadly competitions; a child’s mysterious self-sacrifice; hate; smog; kudzu. There is a twister-shaped poem; and words whose sounds thrash around, crash together, and lash out.

Some of the stories, poems, observations, and images strike a chord off-key, and others make the reader reach for meaning, but, after all, these are the contributions of writers whose task it is to take us places we haven’t been. Those of us who cling to our preferred, popular genres do so because we trust them. Reading an anthology of unknown authors on a scary theme requires letting go, “a willing suspension” of distrust.

I expected to roar through this book without interruption, dwelling on the idea of storm. This became impossible because some landscapes were sad, lingering. I thought about reading one piece a day, as a kind of morbid meditation. I began to wonder about the nature and purpose of such a serious anthology. Where do you place it to be handy and not threatening? When can you safely enter and exit what may become dark, darker, or darkest? I settled on a manageable routine, absorbing two or three pieces, morning and afternoon (and not at bedtime).

Sarah E. Holroyd has done a fantastic job of assembling these pieces to deepen our experiences of an angry Nature. Holroyd graduated from Kent State University (Kent, Ohio) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Anthropology (archaeology), and now owns Sleeping Cat Books, an editing and book design service. The Storm is Coming is wrapped in a photograph of darkened clouds looping sulkily over the unruffled surface of a bright green field and distant wall of impenetrable woods. The white, futuristic, type screams The Storm is Coming across the top third of the cover.

Thanks to many small presses like Sleeping Cat, and thousands of talented literary writers, the opportunities for this kind of reading adventure are plentiful; we just don’t often hear about them, therefore don’t think about them. Too bad. Maybe there should be, an e-letter (like “Omnimystery News”) dedicated to this category of book. Maybe each of us who read habitually in one genre should push ourselves out of our comfort zone at least once a month.

One complaint about the format: I prefer to read writers’ biographies after, not before, their selections. Bios can be intrusive. These are uneven, some nuts and bolts, others works of art in themselves. Meet Alan Philps: “having waded through the aftermath of terrorist explosions, faced bayonet-wielding soldiers, and collected the bodies of birds who mistook pools of arsenic for water, he found the peace of the English countryside stifling.” T. Fox Dunham’s motto is: “wrecking civilization one story at a time.” Hal O’Leary (age 86) says, “Truth is as obsolete as chastity…” Which brings me to ask: Could we have photos of the artists, as well? After all, this kind of contemporary art, fast-paced, and edgy, is a kind of performance. STORM ensemble, shake your boughs.

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