The Giant Penis That Ate England and Other Terrifying Tales

The Mammoth Book of Monsters, edited by Stephen Jones (2007):

“The Horror from the Mound” by Robert E. Howard
“Visitation” by David J. Schow
“Down There” by Ramsey Campbell
“The Man He Had Been Before” by Scott Edelman
“Calling All Monsters” by Dennis Etchison
“The Shadmock” by R. Chetwynd-Hayes
“The Spider Kiss” by Christopher Fowler
“Café Endless: Spring Rain” by Nancy Holder
“The Medusa” by Thomas Ligotti
“In The Poor Girl Taken by Surprise” by Gemma Files
“Downmarket” by Sydney J. Bounds
“Fat Man” by Jay Lake
“The Thin People” by Brian Lumley
“The Hill” by Tanith Lee
“Godzilla’s Twelve Step Program” by Joe R. Lansdale
“.220 Swift” by Karl Edward Wagner
“Our Lady of the Sauropods” by Robert Silverberg
“The Flabby Men” by Basil Copper
“The Silvering” by Robert Holdstock
“Someone Else’s Problem” by Michael Marshall Smith
“Rawhead Rex” by Clive Barker
“The Chill Clutch of the Unseen” by Kim Newman

Dandy, wide-ranging collection of (mostly) reprinted monster stories with monsters familiar, unfamiliar, and just plain bizarre. Jones has become the the premier anthologist of his generation when it comes to fantasy and dark fantasy, his selections canny and often peculiarly excellent (I’d include the Tanith Lee story in the latter category, along with another odd but effective Gemma Files story). There aren’t any real stinkers here — a couple of stories strain for sublime or poetic effect and don’t quite get there, but overall this is a fine selection of stories that I was mostly unfamiliar with.

True to his two-fisted Conan form, Robert E. Howard devises a way to dispatch one traditional monster that is hilariously apt; fellow, later Texan Lansdale’s Godzilla story is also both hilarious and apt; Robert Holdstock’s eerily reimagined Selkies offer a disturbing twist on an old monster; Robert Silverberg one-ups the not-yet-written-at-the-time Jurassic Park with a truly dangerous ‘park’ of reborn dinosaurs; R. Chetwynd-Hayes gives us a bleakly funny take on the hybridization and classification of classic monsters. Clive Barker’s “Rawhead Rex” brings us a ‘real’ British monster of legend reconfigured in that distinctive Barker way (omigod, it’s a giant, child-eating penis!!!); and so on, and so forth. Highly recommended.

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