Alexander Zelenyj's Songs for the Lost was published by Eibonvale Press in September 2014.
Information about Alexander Zelenyj:
Alexander Zelenyj is the author of the short fiction collection, Experiments At 3 Billion A.M., published by Eibonvale Press, and the novel, Black Sunshine, published by Fourth Horseman Press. Songs for the Lost is his third book. He lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and sings songs of joy and woe in equal measure.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Information about Songs for the Lost:
The lonely and the regretful and the downtrodden, the furious and the woeful and the damaged; all facing the futility of living in a world of malice, loss and loneliness; all desperately seeking salvation while forging through the miles of pain marking every step of the path to Paradise.
- A farmer sings a nightly funeral dirge, summoning something from far across the fields
- A cavalry troop finds Heaven or Hell in the hills
- A reporter witnesses the final inexplicable moments of a saucer suicide cult
- A boy and his grandfather hear a message from an un-guessed world beneath their feet
- A boxer faces his greatest nemesis during the strangest of storms
- A platoon is faced with a terrible choice in the jungle
- A garage band and their loyal fans disappear as part of the fulfillment of a prophecy
- An outpost of Roman Legionnaires is terrorized by an ancient evil
- Two alien children forge a unique pact with two Earth children
- A strange door opens in the middle of a burning summer day
- A seasoned detective interrogates a vengeful angel responsible for the haunting of an entire city
- A bounty hunter accepts a mission to hunt another man’s demon
- A husband and wife receive a long-awaited message from the sky
- A broken girl is bestowed a gift from the moon
- A group of troubled misfits search for Heaven in a violent future
- A brother and sister await the greatest fire the world will ever see...
All these Songs For The Lost, and other ghosts, too...
This is a gigantic book of no less than 34 stories that you can savour and dip into for a long long time.
A REVIEW OF ALEXANDER ZELENYJ'S SONGS FOR THE LOST
Every once in a while - if you're lucky - you'll come across a short story collection that is so unique and stunning that it'll make you marvel at its contents. Alexander Zelenyj's Songs for the Lost is such a collection. It's an exceptionally good and original collection of speculative fiction stories that are marked by intelligent storytelling, supernatural elements and beautiful and eloquent literary prose.
The stories in this collection range from fantasy and science fiction to magical realism and horror, but you can also find traces of other speculative fiction sub-genres. Alexander Zelenyj boldly and uninhibitedly combines many elements to create original, harrowing and emotionally challenging speculative fiction (he's one of the few authors who perfectly succeed in blending many different kind of elements and genres). His stories are refreshingly different, because only a handful of authors can write similar kind of speculative fiction.
I was very impressed by this collection, because it is not often that you have a chance to read this kind of sad and beautifully written stories about characters who live in a world filled with loneliness and sorrow and who are searching for salvation in different ways. This kind of speculative fiction collections are - unfortunately - extremely rare, so this collection is a unique collection.
These stories are challenging, disturbing, beautiful and touching. They're full of sadness, real human pain and exploration of many feelings related to loss. The author offers his readers a unique and memorable vision of life, loneliness and sadness in this collection.
Songs for the Lost contains the following 34 stories:
- The Fire That We Deserve
- Your Bone Spider Will Find You
- Dying Days of Treasure Spiders Everywhere
- Maria, Here Come the Death Angels!
- Always an Angelwitch Over Suicide Hill
- Or the Loneliness of Another Million Years
- Forevermore Yours, the Hatred Chord
- A Roman Plague
- A Valley for Dorothy
- Through Fogs Deep and Fires Long
- Thank You, Baby-Stabber
- Chux and Bux and the Quest for Brussels Sprouts
- On Tour with the Deathray Bradburys
- Elopers to Sirius
- Tiny Bugles in a Dream of Giants
- But One Day All of This Will Be Gone
- May We Again Live without Walls
- If I Had Wings, Mister Moon
- Squeeze the Sun: Storm Days Brew
- Love Me, Too, Black Flower
- Song of the Dream Cats
- Roaring Dream of the Weeping Spider-Men
- An Angela Named Vengeance
- Two Blue Eggs in a Silver Dream
- Far Beneath Incomplete Constellations
- Motherlight Go to Sleep
- Proteus in the Mountain
- Disciples of the Fire God
- Come On, Night!
- Black Lash of Lucifer
- Heaven a Million Hexes Away
- Garden the Sky, Jimmy
- Songs for the Lost
This collection also contains an introduction by David Rix and a foreword by Brian A. Dixon.
Here's a bit more information about these stories and my thoughts about them. Most of these stories are so elaborate and magical in nature that it's difficult to describe them properly to other readers, because they must be experienced personally to understand their fascinatingly strange allure, but I'll try to do my best with a few words without spoilers.
The Fire That We Deserve:
- In this story a brother and a sister are awaiting a great fire at the beach.
- A touching and beautifully emotional story.
Your Bone Spider Will Find You:
- A man shows something weird to an abused (raped) girl.
- A touching and deeply gripping story.
Dying Days of Treasure Spiders Everywhere:
- A beautifully written story about a boy, who collects spiders, and his grandfather.
- One of the best and most touching stories in this collection.
Maria, Here Come the Death Angels!:
- A story of soldiers in the jungle.
- A good and wonderfully weird story.
Always an Angelwitch Over Suicide Hill:
- A beautifully written story about strange happenings and a group of friends who invent a witch and conjure her up.
- This story is one of the best stories in this collection.
Or the Loneliness of Another Million Years:
- A man wanders aroung the city and hears of a mysterious door that is supposed to open for a short time.
- An atmospheric and a bit melancholy tale.
Forevermore Yours, the Hatred Chord:
- A man is fascinated by a singer and the mystery of her song.
- A beautifully written story with excellent prose.
A Roman Plague:
- In this story Roman Legionnaires have to face an evil being.
- Excellent and atmospheric historical horror.
A Valley for Dorothy:
- A story about Henry Barber who is asked by his employer to dig a hole for to bury a demon.
- An excellent story with good descriptions.
Through Fogs Deep and Fires Long:
- An intriguing story about sex, love and a sadomasochistic relationship between Daniel and Ellen.
- A deeply disturbing and brilliant story about a different kind of a relationship and weird erotica.
- A well written story about a different kind of a baby.
- A fantastic horror/dark fantasy story that contains a bit of Lovecraftian weirdness.
Thank You, Baby-Stabber:
- A story of a man who tries to cleanse the world of babies. He kills babies before they become evil.
- A short, but brilliant story.
Chux and Bux and the Quest for Brussels Sprouts:
- A story about Chux and Bux who are Boombaxans and try to search for brussels sprouts. They meet Earth children during their journey.
- A wonderful sci-fi "fairy-tale".
On Tour with the Deathray Bradburys:
- An intriguing story about a band called Deathray Bradburys and their fans who suddenly disappear.
- This story is something a bit different.
Elopers to Sirius:
- In this story the members of a suicide cult await to go to a better place.
- An interesting and memorable story.
Tiny Bugles in a Dream of Giants:
- In this story a cavalry group finds something unexpected in the hills.
- The author writes amazingly well about what happens to men in the cavalry.
But One Day All of This Will Be Gone:
- Bill Harliss writes memories and things - some of them painful - down on the paper.
- The things that the protagonist writes down offer interesting glimpses into his life.
May We Again Live without Walls:
- An interesting fairy tale-like story that takes a nice twist at the end.
If I Had Wings, Mister Moon:
- A broken girl, who's repeating a few words over and over again, is found in the woods.
- Interesting comments about what is darkly romantic.
Squeeze the Sun: Storm Days Brew:
- A story about Tejay who meets Jim at the bowling alley during a storm.
- Well written descriptions about the characters and their actions.
Love Me, Too, Black Flower:
- A well written story about a man who works in a movie store. He is mesmerised by a goth girl who comes to the shop.
- This story features intriguing exploration of feelings, sexuality and memories.
Song of the Dream Cats:
- A horrifyingly effective story about what a soldier is capable of doing when his mind is broken.
- An interesting and fascinatingly disturbing horror-flavoured story.
Roaring Dream of the Weeping Spider-Men:
- An excellent story about a soldier's feelings and experiences.
- The author easily creates a tense atmosphere in this story.
An Angela Named Vengeance:
- A strikingly bold story about Angela and what she does with a man.
- This story contains bold and uninhibited descriptions about sex.
Two Blue Eggs in a Silver Dream:
- An intriguingly disturbing and captivating story about siblings whose life hasn't been easy.
- This is one of the best and most unforgettable stories in this collection.
Far Beneath Incomplete Constellations:
- An excellent and beautifully written story about a man who has an affair with an Oriental woman.
- I was already familiar with this story, because it was published in the excellent Blind Swimmer anthology (Eibonvale Press, 2010).
- In my opinion this story is amazing and deserves to be read by all who are interested in literary stories.
Motherlight Go to Sleep:
- In this beautifully written story a farmer summons something across the fields with his music and song.
- In my opinion this story is one of the most intriguing and beautiful stories in this collection, because it's a short literary masterpiece.
Proteus in the Mountain:
- A story of explorers who search for a geological artifact and find something amazing.
- The author writes well about the explorers and their feelings.
Disciples of the Fire God:
- An interesting piece of flash fiction.
- This story is a good example of the fact that a story doesn't have to be long to be good.
Come On, Night!:
- A good and original story about a boxer called Bobby Erwin and his opponent.
- The author effortlessly creates good atmosphere in this story.
Black Lash of Lucifer:
- A well written poem/song that is credited to The Deathray Bradburys.
Heaven a Million Hexes Away:
- An excellent story about a woman and a man who talk about what they have done and where they're going.
- I loved this story, because it was a well written and genuinely intriguing story.
Garden the Sky, Jimmy:
- A well written story about a couple who have lost their daughter.
- I consider this story to be one of the best stories in this collection.
Songs for the Lost:
- A fantastic and compelling weird western story.
- This story is also one of the best weird western stories I've ever read.
These stories are amazing and original stories about loneliness, regret, loss, melancholy and search for salvation. The characters in these stories are lonely, regretful, downtrodden and damaged. Some of them are furious while others are woeful and sad, and they're searching for salvation in their own unique ways that will surprise the readers.
"The Fire That We Deserve" is a strong opening story. It beautifully tells of a brother and a sister who are awaiting the end of the world together.
"A Roman Plague" is one of my favourite stories in this collection, because it's a fantastic historical horror story that tells of what happens to Roman Legionnaires when they meet an evil being and try to fight against it.
"Thank You, Baby-Stabber" is one of the most disturbing and intriguing stories I've read during the last couple of years, because it's a detective story that is almost a bizarro story because of its weird contents. It's a fascinatingly disturbing glimpse into the mind of a person who stabs babies to death so that none of them will grow up to be like him.
"Through Fogs Deep and Fires Long" is an excellent example of a story that can only be found in speculative fiction collections, anthologies or magazines that publish speculative fiction. It's a brilliantly disturbing description of two damaged persons who find love and salvation in a sadomasochistic relationship in which both of them hurt each other and try to find their way to paradise. "Through Fogs Deep and Fires Long" is a powerful story that has echoes of Clive Barker's Books of Blood stories in it.
"May We Again Live without Walls" is a fascinating story, because its beginning reads almost like a fairy-tale. Then, suddenly at the end, the story becomes something else and the reader realizes what has happened.
In "Love Me, Too, Black Flower" the author writes beautifully and longingly about a man's fascination towards a girl who visits the shop where he works at. The author's descriptions about the man's sexual interest towards the girl and memories about the man's school days are handled in an excellent way.
"Two Blue Eggs in a Silver Dream" is an excellent story about abused siblings who end up doing something shocking and violent that's liberating for them.
"An Angela Named Vengeance" reminded me a bit of Livia Llewellyn's "At the Edge of Ellensburg", because it has the same kind of raw sexual power in it. It's a surprisingly bold story full of raw sexual emotions.
In "Motherlight Go to Sleep" the author writes beautifully about a farmer whose music summons animals and beings near to him. As the farmer plays his acoustic guitar and sings his sad song, animals and beings come near him. This story is almost like a fairy-tale for adults.
"Proteus in the Mountain" is also an excellent and well written story. In this story the author writes fascinatingly about explorers who find something extraordinary during their journey. I enjoyed reading about their discovery.
"Garden the Sky, Jimmy" is one of my favourite stories, because the author writes beautifully and touchingly about a couple who have lost their daughter. Their daughter was murdered by a man who wanted to transport women to a better place. The fantastical elements in this story are excellent, because the author writes about mysterious spectral flowers that grow in the woods.
"Songs fort the Lost" is a perfect final story for this collection. It's a futuristic weird western story that surpasses many other weird western stories in terms of style, depth and originality. I'm difficult to please when it comes to weird western stories, but this story impressed me. I think that readers who like weird western stories will enjoy reading this story, because it's something different. I enjoyed reading about the Varkoom that were mentioned in the story.
Although there are supernatural elements in these stories, there's also gritty and terrifying realism in them. The author uses reality and everyday life as a basis for his stories and then adds magical realism and fantastical happenings to them in varying degrees.
The author explores the darkest corners and recesses of the characters' lives and feelings in a profoundly memorable and touching - and at times also surprisingly brutal - way without condescending platitudes. Although there are sad and sorrowful happenings in these stories, there are also tiny glimmers of hope in them, so there's hope for some of the characters. The characters try to escape their pain and find surprising ways to deal with their emotions.
Pain and human emotions are seldom addressed in this kind of a beautiful, disturbing and challenging way, because these stories have real pain and sadness in them. There is nothing artificial or forced about the author's writing style, because he writes beautifully about painful issues associated with loss. He seems to understand what it means to be human and how much suffering one is capable of feeling.
Alexander Zelenyj explores the emotions of the characters in such an excellent and observant way that you can't help but be impressed by his writing style. The damaged, lonely and donwtrodden characters come to life in these stories, because they have experienced something personal or shocking that has affected them. Their lives and feelings are introduced to readers in an exquisitely tender yet brutal way that will fascinate and impress all who read these stories.
Some of the descriptions in these stories are wonderfully macabre and bizarre, but others are achingly touching and disturbing. There's subtle brutality and raw human emotions in the author's descriptions. I have to mention that I found this kind of an approach to difficult issues refreshingly invigorating and unforgettable.
Alexander Zelenyj writes boldy about sex and sexuality. He uses sex in a realistic way in these stories and writes fluently and unflinchingly about sexual activities. The lust, the eroticism and the feelings associated with sex are explored in a raw, but strangely sensual way in certain stories.
In my opinion Alexander Zelenyj is a talented author, because he's capable of writing versatile stories that are difficult to forget. The diversity of these stories is simply stunning, because all of them are different kind of stories. Although they differ from each other, there are many common themes in them and together they form an unforgettable and enchanting reading experience. I'm sure that these stories will linger in the reader's mind for a long time after the last page is read.
The author's fluid and beautifully dark writing style will enchant all readers who love literary prose. With beautiful and evocative prose he manages to create a dream-like atmosphere where anything - even the impossible - seems possible and anything can happen to the characters.
As you may have already guessed by the previous paragraph, there's something a bit dream- and fairy tale-like in some of these stories, but there's also more in them. They contain exquisite brutality that evokes emotions and feelings of unease in the reader. Some of these stories are nice and normal kind of stories, but others are shocking and disturbing. This kind of contrast in the stories is great.
I first heard of Alexander Zelenyj when I read the Blind Swimmer anthology (Eibonvale Press, 2010) a couple of years ago (I liked his story very much, because it was an excellent story). Songs for the Lost confirmed my feelings about his writing abilities, because each story in this collection is of the highest quality - there are no bad stories in this book.
I haven't had a chance to read the author's Experiments at 3 Billion A.M. (Eibonvale Press, 2009) yet, but it's on my reading list, because this collection is so stunningly effective and memorable collection that I have to read the previous collection. I also intend to read the author's first novel, Black Sunshine (Fourth Horseman Press, 2005).
When I read this collection, I noticed that Alexander Zelenyj owes a debt to Ray Bradbury (he also owes a debt to a few other classic authors). Some of these stories are almost like homages to this well-known author. Although I found these stories to be a bit reminiscent of Bradbury's stories, they're original stories, because the author doesn't imitate anybody's writing style, but writes original modern fiction.
If you've read literary speculative fiction stories written by Douglas Thompson, Nina Allan, Brendan Connell, Quentin S. Crisp, D. P. Watt and other similar quality authors, you'll love this collection. I can guarantee that you'll be impressed by these sad and weird stories.
The cover and interior illustrations by David Rix look beautifully artistic and fit this collection perfectly.
Before I finish writing this review, I think it's good to mention that if you like this collection, you may want to take a look at Ballads to the Burning Twins: The Complete Song Lyrics of the Deathray Bradburys, which was also published by Eibonvale Press. It's a companion volume to Songs for the Lost.
Songs for the Lost is a huge and amazing collection of quality speculative fiction stories that deserves to be read and savoured by readers who want the utmost best from their speculative fiction. All the stories in this collection are worth reading and praising. I highly recommend this stunning and extraordinary collection to all readers who enjoy reading beautifully written stories. You won't regret reading this collection, because it's something different and refreshingly original.