When I first stumbled across the small press back in the early 2000’s, one of the first items I purchased was J. Newman’s “Holy Rollers” audiobook. The story remains one of my favorite novellas to this day. But what made the project even more special was the artwork on the jewel case, especially the silhouettes of the two holy rollers, framed by a straight razor. It was then and there that I fell in love with Keith Minnion’s artwork.

Fast forward a few years: I was flipping through the table of contents on Cemetery Dance’s SHIVERS IV anthology and came across a short story by…Keith Minnion?! The artist? Curious, I flipped to his story (entitled “Up in the Boneyard”) and read it first. I walked away pretty impressed, enough so that I started tracking down some of Keith’s older stories. The more I read, the more I realized just how talented Keith is. To be able to create art as well as he does is an accomplishment in itself; being able to write entertaining stories as well? Nothing short of amazing.

When I asked Mark if he’d be interested in publishing fiction here at the Drive-In, one of the first (if not the first) people I contacted was Keith Minnion. His lean-and-mean “So Much for the Competition” was the second story we published on the site. Later that year, when we were fortunate enough to run an original Orangefield story by Al Sarrantonio, I again contacted Keith to see if he’d be interested in rejoining forces with Al and illustrating the tale. Keith agreed, and provided us with a chilling picture of Samhain.

All of this is a very long-winded way of saying I think Keith Minnion is one helluva talented guy.
Still don’t believe me? Then I encourage you to pick up Keith’s latest project, IT’S FOR YOU -- a long-overdue collection of his short stories that showcases his abilities as both a writer and an artist.

IT’S FOR YOU has a little something for everyone. I think the best way to describe Keith’s writing is to compare him to Dan Simmons, in that Keith has no problem jumping from horror to suspense to fantasy to science fiction, or melding multiple genres into one story. There’s just no pigeonholing him, which keeps readers on their toes as they move from story to story in this collection. While I was entertained throughout, a few stories that deserve a special mention include:

“In the Stacks” – This is one of my favorite stories from the collection. In it, a young man named David Brown works at a library. He appears to have a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder – he knows how many sidewalk squares there are between his subway stop and his job at the library, as well as how many of the squares have cracks in them. At work he knows where every single book is in the library’s restricted section, allowing him to track them down with ease…until one day he goes back to locate a book and finds that it isn’t there. In its place is a strange blue book that causes Dave’s fragile life to spin out of control.

“Turn of a Card” is a quiet ghost story that centers on Mark, a young boy who faces the prospect of moving into a spooky house that his parents are thinking about purchasing. But is there truly a malevolent force inside the bedroom his parents have chosen for him, or is it just Mark’s imagination?

“Empire State” – Keith mixes fantasy with a little sci-fi to tell the story of a sea captain who’s trying to find the legendary Empire State and a cabin boy whose life is forever changed by the voyage. Set against a future version of New York City, this tale of action and drama was my favorite of the collection.

“Eats” – While on a road trip, an arguing husband and wife stop off at a diner to get a bite to eat in this tale that melds a monster with a Twilight Zone-esque step back in time.

While these stories were my favorites of the bunch, many others were also very entertaining.
“Along the River Lethe” describes “memory houses,” where people can donate or purchase memories (similar to the movie Total Recall, which is a guilty pleasure of mine).

“Island Funeral” is a novella about a man whose wife has passed away, and the terrible family secret he learns in the wake of her funeral; and “Dead End” is a chilling tale about an execution that takes place in an inner-city neighborhood as the residents all watch.

The only thing that didn’t work for me on a couple of stories was that they wrapped up too suddenly. In Keith’s author’s notes he mentions not liking the ending to “In the Stacks,” which is one I felt was actually pretty good in light of what transpired before it in the story. But other stories, such as “Dead Eye” and to some degree “Dead End,” had fantastic build-ups that had jarring endings I would have liked to see fleshed out a little more.

is scheduled to be published by White Noise Press in May 2011. The book will be released as a signed trade paperback for $15.95 (plus $5.00 for shipping), which is a steal when considering how much fiction and artwork is included. Head on over to Keith’s site and grab a copy while they’re still available.

(9 out of 10)

No comments

The author does not allow comments to this entry