- Signed by Steve Rasnic Tem.
- 500 signed copies.
- Bound in full black cloth.
- Dustjacket and frontispiece art by Dan Strange.
- Patterned endpapers.
- Head and tail bands.
- 5¾ × 8½ inches.
- 480 pages.
- Published November 2023.
“Kafkaesque” isn’t a term that’s used often or even lightly. So when it finds itself tied to any modern-day author, you know you’ll be in for a real treat. And that’s just what we’ve come to expect from Steve Rasnic Tem. His work often embodies the same nightmarish quality that authors like Kafka inject into their own writing. However, in Tem’s stories the situations are even more nihilistic. His environments are inhabited by droogs and degenerates, lost or forgotten, whose stories — up until now — have had no voice. But in a world overrun by an abject and apathetic populace, Tem provides his characters with all the voice they need.
Thus, it’s no surprise that violence is the wallpaper that lines Tem’s squalid hallways. Stories like “Facing It” and “Rough Justice” portray a dog-eat-dog world where “little bastards” are held in check and accused baby killers receive their just deserts. But keep a look-out for irony knocking on the door — it provides all the epiphany our flawed anti-heroes would ever wish to meet.
In “Rat Catcher” an infestation of rodents in one family’s home leads to an anguished plea for help. But the man who arrives leaves their children unsettled, and like the nightmare the father endured as a child, a horrific manifestation has been resurrected. Just as deplorable is “The Stench” in which Riley is continually hampered by foul odors found in ordinary people, places, and things, forcing him to avoid them at all costs. But one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and for Riley, the stench he so admonishes may in fact be our windfall.
Tem shows that there may be a glimmer of sentiment lurking inside — one that needs its door slammed shut. “Love Letters” features a man traveling cross country in the hopes of recovering his ex’s love notes. No matter what their nostalgia, they pull him further from reality and further from the closure he so desperately needs.
“Daddy’s an Actor” and “My Daughter is Here” feature two distinct father-daughter depictions: one that surrounds a fascination with the art of acting; and the other with end-of-life care. Their faux relationships may be teetering on the brink of collapse, but thankfully, their “daughters” are there to swoop in and help as needed…in their own little, maladjusted ways.
Unlike the noir-driven exploits from your father’s time, these forty-three tales of crime and deception run the gamut from high-altitude capers to back-alley brouhahas. You’ll meet obsessives and connivers, goons and scoundrels. You may find it uncomfortable or even disturbing, but you’ll never be lonely or bored locked inside Tem’s “Kafkaesque” amphitheater. With nearly 500 pages of disturbing content, it’s not to be read all at once.