Book Review: Nothing is Everything by Simon Strantzas | More2Read
 

Nothing is Everything by Simon Strantzas


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About Nothing is Everything

Nothing is Everything’ is the masterful new collection from acclaimed Canadian author Simon Strantzas. With elegant craftsmanship Strantzas delicately weaves a disquieting narrative through eerie and unexpected landscapes, charting an uncanny course through territories both bleak and buoyant, while further cementing his reputation as one of the finest practitioners of strange tales.

Contents  

In This Twilight

Our Town’s Talent

These Last Embers

The Flower Unfolds

Ghost Dogs

In the Tall Grass

The Fifth Stone

The Terrific Mr. Toucan

Alexandra Lost

All Reality Blossoms in Flames

 


 

Praise for Nothing is Everything

 

“Simon Strantzas captures the creepiness of small town Ontario; there is something of Seth, of Alice Munro in his work, wonderfully tangled with the likes of Aickman and Jackson. Uncanny as a ventriloquist’s doll, but with a real, beating heart.”
-Camilla Grudova, author of The Doll’s Alphabet

“Welcome to Nothing is Everything, the latest collection by Simon Strantzas. Taking the paths less traveled to the human heart and mind, and excavating the strangeness that abides therein, Strantzas is one of the most striking writers working today.”
-Angela Slatter, author of the World Fantasy Award-winning The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings

“Simon Strantzas is Shirley Jackson-grade eerie, creating stories that are as unsettling as they are elegant.”
-Kij Johnson, author of At the Mouth of The River of Bees

“The unexpected has arrived, and has brought with it the unknown. Simon Strantzas’ stories arrive without warning, to offer those unknown gifts and sidelong glimpses that bring mystery close enough to touch.”
-Kathe Koja, author of The Cipher, and Christopher Wild

“Simon Strantzas’s compelling stories unfold across a liminal landscape of small towns and ordinary situations where encounters with the uncanny are often revelatory. With his latest collection, he further cements his place as a significant voice among a wave of writers who are redefining the boundaries of genre, blending a literary sensibility with a powerful sense of the possibilities for transcendence in the everyday.”
-Lynda E. Rucker, author of The Moon Will Look Strange, and You’ll Know When You Get There 

 


 

Review

Another fine collection with visceral psychological tales that explore real aspects of life with surreal weird tale mutations.

The stories that worked for me:

 

In This Twilight

There is a view of the darkness and one’s philosophy of it, man on floor of bus sleeping wakes up with new occupant and expounds Nothing is Everything.
Embracing a darkness.

“I bet you’re like everybody else; you only see the dark one way. You see it as a negative. Like it’s subtraction, the end of something. The light dies and fades to darkness. And it doesn’t matter if it’s light, or if it’s life. The dark equals decay. A transition from something that is to something that isn’t. Like a corruption of an ideal toward chaos and absence.
“I get it. Life teaches you to think that way. Everything you’ve seen in your textbooks and from your parents and teachers and institutions tells you to run away from the dark, from the void. The dark is nothingness, and nothingness means the end.
“But they’ve got it all wrong. Like, it’s actually the opposite. In nothing is everything. Darkness is actually perfection, the most perfect state there is. It’s not the decay of light or life. It’s when there is so much light, too much life, all the life, that it transcends what we know and understand and becomes something more than we can sense. It becomes nothing because we can’t possibly grasp it all. So much is summed up that it travels past the understandable and becomes darkness, becomes nothing. When you grasp the truth of the dark, it’s like grasping at an understanding you can’t really have—of what exists beyond everything. But it doesn’t just go beyond it; it kind of makes it irrelevant at the same time.”

 

These Last Embers

Memories of kin, one loved and parted, with a sister trying to reconcile her brother, returning home, a once burning brightness and darkness.

“The house remained unchanged in her mind’s eye. There, it was framed with her memories, both sturdy and bright. The paint on the porch looked as it always had, peeled away in the corners by a series of children’s nails. The windows stayed large and bright, with wooden frames flanked by a pair of nailed-down shutters. And yet, when the car pulled closer to the destination, creeping up the stone drive, she saw the house in the light of reality and wondered if she’d made a wrong turn somewhere. But it was impossible. There stood the mailbox with her parents’ name stencilled across the side; there grew the large tree in the front yard, shorn of those lowest branches from which she and Lemule had once swung so freely; there remained the swing set her father had installed where the grass was once thickest and coolest on her summer-warmed skin. Yet the shapes of the windows looked different, the colour of the roof altered, the front door frame replaced. And, changed most of all, the dark stain of fire that had turned the rear of the house black.”

 

The Fifth Stone

Youth, stones and seizures.
Age, loss and loneliness.
Visions and dreams.
A crucible life needing escape with Simon Strantzas crafting before you.

 

The Flower Unfolds

Lovely Candice in her workplace, at the office, in the city, her heart at battle with things, complexities and anxieties within working with colleagues and people, she is low on self-confidence and needing some love and may just get some aid via the botanical garden on the roof floor of the skyscraper.

Through a small box, an elevator, she explores new terrain and they stir her in good and bad ways.

A intriguing visceral psychological tale with the real transcending with a surreal weird tale mutation.

Check out the author story notes of this tale at this page –> thestrantzas.com

 

In the Tall Grass 

Woman out with sweat and toil on the field befriending another.
Evoking scene and feeling with earth and soul, loss and loneliness.
There be greatness of friendship and love in smaller dimensions of our realm in the hardest times.
An originally told hypnotically warm terrible beauty of a poetic read.

“Baum emerges from the grass while Heike works on her truck, shirtsleeves folded to above her elbows. She hears the snap of a thousand twigs and turns her grease-smeared face to find Baum crying, crooked arms spread wide. The smell of new green wafts from him while light diffuses through his foliage, dappling shadows over her face.”

“The jagged cityscape rises from the horizon as the forest had, but with concrete taller than trees and lights brighter than fireflies. It looks grand and endless, but Baum finds little excitement in seeing such a vast monstrosity.”

“Death robs so much from everyone, stopping only when there is nothing left worth taking.”

 


 

About Simon Strantzas 

Simon Strantzas is the author of Nothing is Everything (Undertow Publications, 2018), Burnt Black Suns(Hippocampus Press, 2014), Nightingale Songs (Dark Regions Press, 2011), Cold to the Touch (Tartarus Press, 2009), and Beneath the Surface (Humdrumming, 2008), and is the editor of Aickman’s Heirs(Undertow Publications, 2015), Shadows Edge (Gray Friar Press, 2013), and was the guest editor of The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 3 (Undertow Publications, 2016). Collectively, he’s been a finalist for four Shirley Jackson Awards, two British Fantasy Awards, and the World Fantasy Award. His stories have been reprinted in Best New Horror, The Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Weird Fiction and The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, and published in Nightmare, Cemetery Dance, Postscripts, The Dark, and elsewhere. He lives with his wife in Toronto, Canada.

 

 


  • Author Interview with Simon Strantzas | More2Read 

 

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 25 May 2021