Authors: Diane Doniol-Valcroze and Arthur K. Flam


It would be an understatement to describe the unsettling short-stories contained in Diane Doniol-Valcroze and Arthur K. Flam's 41 Strange as merely being over-the-top. What we have here is a compilation of narratives that are filled with elements of horror and sheer creepiness where we can visualize shades of Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock, and Rod Serling.

In addition, each story is a quick read that abundantly satisfies the audience's thirst and appetite for horrific plots. Moreover, the authors have succeeded in effectively providing depth in terms of plot and character development giving readers exactly what they promise as mentioned in their statement: “You're not quite sure if the events unfolding around the character are happening for real, or are they just a figment of the character's overactive imagination. We love that ambiguity.”

To exemplify, lets refer to the tale entitled, Murderess Mattress. Undoubtedly, after reading this tale, we will think twice before throwing out our old mattresses.

Paul, the narrator informs us that after a seven-year-long intimate relationship with his mattress, he decided to heave it out of his bachelor pad into the filthy gutter outside his Charles Village building.

And that is just the beginning. The mattress finds its way back to Paul's apartment complex in the wee hours of the evening with an awful lonely howl sounding like “the cry of a woman weeping.” Outraged, Paul yells out of his bedroom window and tells the mattress to “shut up.” He further tells it that he is sorry that it will end up in the landfill but that's life and it should “woman up!”

After closing the window, Paul's new mattress seductively beckons him to return to bed and is highly offended by all the attention its competitor was commanding. Believing that he had seen the last of his old friend, Paul is astonished when opening his door that “at his feet, lay the grotesque, pallid old mattress, like a broken toy. It was steeped in the effluvium of a festering puddle of slime and scum. A fugitive from the jaws of the death truck.” Although, the rats were having a great time chewing on its rotten guts, the mattress still managed to move across the apartment floor, “using its repulsive rusted claw-coils to drag itself forward.”

The piece de resistance of this story is when the mattress yells and spews darkish green bile from its bursting buttons shrieking out at Paul, “no kiss hello.” It then wraps its thick legs around Paul, “contracting violently, crushing his fragile skeleton. He could hear a symphony of loud cracks, echoing in his ears.”

The other tall yarns are just as gruesome and skillfully assembled such as a car wash trapping a claustrophobic driver or another where two sexy young girls are caught skinning dipping in a neighbor's pool without authorization and consequently caught by a huge net, and there there is a neurotic tenant who believes there is a staircase-creature that he sees through the peephole of his door.

One caveat, if you are a timid reader, avoid reading these imaginative tales before bedtime for I am sure that thanks to the eerie atmosphere they create, experiencing spooky nightmares is a foregone conclusion. On the other hand, if your time is limited or you lack the patience reading a novel, these short horror stories provide great entertainment, particularly with your spouse or friends on cold winter nights before a fireplace where everyone can participate in their reading. It should make for great fun!

About the Authors

Diane Doniol-Valcroze was born in Paris, France. As a young girl, she developed a passion for writing from her father, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, co-founder of the New Wave magazine Cahiers du cinéma , and from her grandfather, French filmmaker André Cayatte (original The Mirror Has Two Faces). She earned a B.A. in English literature from the Sorbonne, and an M.F.A. in film from New York University while apprenticing on the Lauren Hutton show. She has co-written screenplays for such films as Lionsgate's Penny Dreadful, starring Mimi Rogers, and MGM's Hit and Run, helmed by Enda McCallion and starring Kevin Corrigan. 41 STRANGE is her debut book. She lives in Los Angeles.

Arthur K. Flam was born in New York City and graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. in writing, and from New York University with an M.F.A. in film. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Johns Hopkins's oldest literary magazine, Zenaida, and worked as a journalist for the Baltimore Chronicle. He started in the film industry as an assistant on Abel Ferrara's vampire film, The Addiction. He has co-written screenplays for the films Penny Dreadful and Hit and Run. 41 STRANGE is his first book. He lives in Los Angeles.

Diane and Arthur met at New York University's film school and started collaborating, first on short films and then on screenplays. That working relationship forged a natural path to writing stories.

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Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With Diane Doniol-Valcroze