The Girl Next Door Prime – Andy-palmer.co.uk

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The Girl Next Door WARNING For those of you that still have a tattered, fragmentary scrap of optimism for the inherent goodness of people, this book may well rip it from you and shred your faith in mankind This book is as disturbing as anything I have ever read This is mostly because the novel slammed all of my soft weak spots when it comes to violence, including 1 Torture 2 Sadism 3 Violence against children 4 Violence committed by children and5 Prolonged mental abuse and worst of all, this is based on WARNING For those of you that still have a tattered, fragmentary scrap of optimism for the inherent goodness of people, this book may well rip it from you and shred your faith in mankind This book is as disturbing as anything I have ever read This is mostly because the novel slammed all of my soft weak spots when it comes to violence, including 1 Torture 2 Sadism 3 Violence against children 4 Violence committed by children and5 Prolonged mental abuse and worst of all, this is based on a true story and the most horrific aspects of the story actually happened Pardon my colloquialism but are you fucking kidding me What kind of a world do we live in and who do I talk to about a serious dereliction on duty Whoever is in charge of this show we all act in needs to GET INVOLVED and start doing a much better job of bouncing the scum out of this establishment because there are far too many people dancing at this global party that belong at the bottom of cesspool The book description and other reviews have done a great job of describing the basic storyline, especially Flannery s review which can be found here Therefore, I will just briefly summarize the story The book is a fictionalized account of the real life torture and murder of a teenage girl in Indiana In the book, Meg and Susan are placed under the foster of a woman named Ruth after they lose their parents to a car accident that has left Susan crippled During the course of a summer of slowly escalating depravity, Ruth, her children and a group of neighborhood kids under Ruth s direction brutally torture and murder Meg The story is narrated decades after the fact by one of the neighborhood boys, Davy, who suffers extreme guilt because he was aware of the torture but didn t do anything to stop it until it was too late I think Davy is the perfect metaphor for an apathetic society The story is horrific, graphic, disturbing and as far from a pleasurable experience as you are likely to get However, I do want to make this very, very clearthis is NOT TORTURE PORN or gratuitous violence for its own sake which I call movies like Hostel and Saw, etc Ketchum has a reason for this story and it is not to titillate It is to horrify His deftly accomplished escalation of the horrors suffered by Meg is masterful and allows the reader to see through Davy s eyes as he constantly convinces himself that everything is okay or not as bad as it looks Thus we see Meg s ordeal begin with occasional insults that are shrugged off This escalates into constant verbal abuse and harsh spankings which are seen by Davy as the way things are for kids When the abuse finally escalates into severe emotional and physical abuse followed by captivity, torture and finally death, Davy sees the wrongness but by then is caught up in the fervor of The Game as it is called Throughout this unbelievable ordeal, Ketchum makes the narrative seem so authentic that the horror is made even worse because the reader KNOWS that this could and did happen One of the tougher parts of this book for me was that it made me confront something I find somewhat troubling about myself, but that I know will always be a part of me I have a wife and two daughters, 6 and 11, who I lovethan I can possibly put into words no matter how hard I try It is just a different order of magnitude though I am sure my fellow parents and spouses can understand When I read this story, I was reminded of two things about myself First, if anyone ever brutalized one of my loved ones and I was able to get a hold of them, the perps would SUFFER BADLY for the rest of their miserable time on this planet Call it a primal or vengeful aspect of man, but I would certainly unleash it in that instance At times like that I always think back to the post rape scene in Pulp Fiction when Ving Rhames sayWhat now Lemme tell you what now I m gonna call up a couple a hard, pipe hittin niggers and go to work on the holmes here with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch You hear me talkin Hillbilly boy I ain t through with you by a damn site I m gonna get medieval on your ass This shit is between me, you and Mr Soon to be living the rest of his short ass life in agonizing pain, rapist hereYes, it would be like that Oh, and the second thing is that I am completely, 100%, okie dokey comfortable with the above It is just how it wouild be To sum up, this is a tough, tough book to read However, it is also an excellent book and one that I think has an important lesson to impart about the depths of human depravity and the need for good people to confront the brutality when they see it happening It is certainly memorable and will stay with me forever HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 4.0 to 4.5 stars There s going to be some personal information in this review If you feel uncomfortable reading about child abuse of a sexual nature, you might want to skip this one.The Girl Next Door was one of the first Leisure paperbacks I recall buying I don t know what I was expecting, but what I got was a kick in the teeth This book is brutal and unapologetic And, in my opinion, Ruth is one of the scariest characters to be found within the pages of the book What makes this all theterrifying and There s going to be some personal information in this review If you feel uncomfortable reading about child abuse of a sexual nature, you might want to skip this one.The Girl Next Door was one of the first Leisure paperbacks I recall buying I don t know what I was expecting, but what I got was a kick in the teeth This book is brutal and unapologetic And, in my opinion, Ruth is one of the scariest characters to be found within the pages of the book What makes this all theterrifying and unsettling is that the story is based on true events This time around, I decided to listen to Jack Ketchum read the book to me via audiobook The one criticism I have is that Ketchum, like Ruth, is a heavy smoker You can hear evidence of this in the way he breathes I constantly felt myself drawn out of the story and and wondering about Ketchum s health His voice isn t unpleasant, but his breathing is You likely won t notice, but I did He reminded me of my father, who was on oxygen during the final years of his life.Here s where the personal info comes into play You can skip to In summation if you like.Growing up, I lived down the street from a pedophile named Eddie The guy was arrested after a neighbor walked in on him molesting his mentally impaired son, Jamie Jamie s brother Ryan soon confessed that, yes, Eddie had been messing with both of them After that, all the kids in the neighborhood came crawling out of the woodwork with stories of how Eddie had been at them I recall very clearly playing hide and seek with Ryan and group of our friends Ryan and I hid in a closet While we were in there, Ryan unzipped his pants and pulled out his penis He said, Put it in your mouth I was ten and he was a year older than me, but even then I knew there was something wrong with what he was asking me I mean, you pee out of that thing Why would I want to put my mouth on it I called him nasty and he laughed He put his dick away and said he d only been kidding We played the rest of the day and never mentioned it again.That was my only odd experience with that family, meaning Eddie never got a hold of me Although there were stories about how my sisters offered themselves up willingly so he would leave me alone To this day I m not sure if that s true It s not something I feel comfortable asking them, because we re not that close Soon after he was caught, one of the girls on the block came up pregnant Rumors flooded the street about how the father was Eddie The girl s mother had had a thing for him and used her daughter as a bargaining chip to win Eddie s attention Years later, I remember thinking, what kind of woman would do such a thing Reading The Girl Next Door hit me that much harder because of all that Monsters come in all shapes and sizes They come in all genders Unfortunately, people like Ruth exist Trust me I know.When Eddie got out of jail a few weeks later, he would park on the cross street and walk up and down our block He d point at houses and nod his head He d wave at anyone he d happen to catch in their yards or looking out their windows This was years before sexual predators had to register on a national list, and it was months before a restraining order was put into effect Some of you might recognize parts of this story because I put a different version of these events in one of my books Looking back, I know how lucky I was In summation Rereading this wasn t a bright idea, but I don t regret it I ll never say that I enjoy reading it, but I feel everyone should experience it at least once.Final Judgment Utterly horrific , When a pretty girl named Meg moves in next door, young Davy is smitten Soon, however, Meg s aunt Ruth begins mistreating Meg and invites her children to help Can Davy help Meg escape Or will he join in her torment This is the twentieth book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment For the 30 day trial, I m only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.This is one brutal damn book At the beginning, it felt like Stephen King s comi When a pretty girl named Meg moves in next door, young Davy is smitten Soon, however, Meg s aunt Ruth begins mistreating Meg and invites her children to help Can Davy help Meg escape Or will he join in her torment This is the twentieth book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment For the 30 day trial, I m only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.This is one brutal damn book At the beginning, it felt like Stephen King s coming of age horror, like The Body or It Then it became darker and darker until it was physically wearing me out to read it.The Girl Next Door is a story of abuse, torture, and helplessness Like I said, it s a pretty brutal read Davy is torn between fitting in and trying to save Meg from the progressivelyhellish life at Ruth s house.Ketchum paints a horrifying picture of life in an abusive environment The book became increasinglyuncomfortable to read because of his skill at depicting the horrors going on in the basement.In the end, this was a hard book to rate I thought it was very powerful but I can t say I actually enjoyed reading it past the halfway mark The torture was too much but I had to see the book through until the end The most horrifying thing about the book is that it was based on an actual incident.I m giving it a four because of the impact the story and the writing had, not because of any enjoyment or entertainment I got out of the story I doubt I ll be readingKetchum any time soon.Current Kindle Unlimited Savings Total 115.39 Find all of my reviews at Have you ever read a book that you could not with a clear conscience, at least recommend to anyone Ever read something that made you feel like you should turn yourself over to the authorities because only psychotic criminals would be interested in the subject matter you just exposed yourself to If so, then you ve probably already read The Girl Next Door When Meg and Susan s parents die, they are taken in by their aunt rather than Find all of my reviews at Have you ever read a book that you could not with a clear conscience, at least recommend to anyone Ever read something that made you feel like you should turn yourself over to the authorities because only psychotic criminals would be interested in the subject matter you just exposed yourself to If so, then you ve probably already read The Girl Next Door When Meg and Susan s parents die, they are taken in by their aunt rather than becoming wards of the state Moving into a relative s house in a quaint little suburban town with safe schools and a neighborhood full of other kids to play should have been the best case scenario for two orphans Yes, it should have been but there is a darkness inside the Chandler family home that is brought to light with the addition of two girls to the household These are the types of stories you see blips of on the evening news or massive months long coverage by respected journalists like Nancy Grace or Jane Velez Mitchell They are the stories you claim to watch only because you care so much about the fate of the missing found victim They are stories that if you follow too closely make you feel like a sociopathic voyeur This book takes you into the torture chamber and insanity that you know exists each time you see another story like that of Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus It s a book that totally goes there with a no holds barred attitude about what could happen if a young girl was placed in the home of a complete nutter The author breaks every barrier of what is okay to write about, but does it so well that you can t stop turning the page EVERYTHING that is horrible and taboo is covered in this story, so don t say you weren t warned if you decide to pick it up As for me I m going to go finish the rest of my forgetting medicine now The most horrifying thing about Jack Ketchum s The Girl Next Door is that it is based on a true incident horrendous abuse, torture and eventual murder of the 16 year old Sylvia Likens in 1965 Sylvia s parents, carnival workers who moved often, left her and her sister in Indianapolis under care of their acquaintaince, Gertrude Baniszewski Baniszewski was paid to care for the girls, but as the payments were late she began to abuse the young girls, focusing the torrents of her anger on Sylvia The most horrifying thing about Jack Ketchum s The Girl Next Door is that it is based on a true incident horrendous abuse, torture and eventual murder of the 16 year old Sylvia Likens in 1965 Sylvia s parents, carnival workers who moved often, left her and her sister in Indianapolis under care of their acquaintaince, Gertrude Baniszewski Baniszewski was paid to care for the girls, but as the payments were late she began to abuse the young girls, focusing the torrents of her anger on Sylvia Details of this abuse are too horrible to recount, but what is horrifying is that Baniszewski openly encouraged her own children and those of the neighbors to indulge in tormenting Sylvia on their own, imprisoning her in the basement Although Baniszewski s daughter, Paula, would not only brag about it in public but also beat Sylvia in front of the neighbors, nobody did anything to stop it or help her in any way Sylvia eventually died from her extensive injuries.I did not know about this before I read the book in fact, I approached it without knowing anything about it I have only read one novel by Jack Ketchum before, Off Season, which is a visceral, gruesome horror novel featuring a tribe of cannibals and some very unlucky vacationers somewhere in remote woods in Maine the same state where Stephen King lives and sets most of his work Although it has plenty of intense and graphic violence, Off Season lacks pretty much everything else, which made it a rather disappointing reading experience for this reader The Girl Next Door is a much better book, because in it Ketchum does what he didn t do in Off Season develop a proper build up and characters, and establish tension which lasts almost all throughout the novel The narrator of the novel, David, writes it down as a recollection of events which happened a long time ago, when he was growing up in a small town Although David is a successful financier on Wall Street, he has two failed marriages behind him already, and is at the eve of the third he is filled with sadness, regret and guilt, haunted and gradually destroyed by events which took place thirty years ago To an outsider, David s childhood was a relatively normal experience of a young boy growing up in a small town in the 1950 s Although he can see that his parents have marital troubles and knows of his fathers s affairs, he has a circle of friends who live right next door to him the Chandler boys who live with their mother, Ruth Their father left the family for another woman, leaving Ruth alone to take care of the three boys Everyone at the street loved to hang out at Ruth s place even though she kept her boys in line, she also gave them beers and let them enjoy themselves David and his friends felt good at Ruth s place, because it was a place where they could be themselves, and feel natural in David s caseso than at home Although David does not consider his childhood to be special in any way, there is no suggestion that he is unhappy he camped with his friends in a real tent, listened to Elvis on a record player, smoked cigarettes and drank beers in secret In another life his childhood recollection would be muchin tune with the novel s idyllic opening image a young boy lying down next to a clear brook in a picturesque forest, catching crayfish on a bright, sunny day.The woods and the brook are both the opening of the book, and the end of David s childhood this is where he meets Meg Loughlin, whom he declares to be the prettiest girl that he ever saw David is smitten with Meg, and confused by her she is older than other girls that he knows, and his feelings towards her are different He longs and yearns for something when he sees her, but doesn t exactly know what Ketchum manages to capture the butterflies of youthful infatuation in his net David learns that Meg is a distant relative of the Chandler s, and that she will be moving in with them together with her younger sister, Susan, after they both lost their parents in a car accident The accident left Meg with a scar, and Susan crippled unable to walk without her crutches David is evenimpressed with Meg as a survivor he manages to overcome his shyness and ask her to go to the local carnival with him, where they share several sweet and memorable moments In another life, these moments could develop into a beautiful romance here, they are a prelude to a great tragedy.The problem with novels based on real events is that we know what will eventually happen, and it is no great surprise when it finally does This is also the case with The Girl Next Door, but does not ruin the book Ketchum does a very good job with establishing a slow buildup, with proper foreshadowing in all the right places The specter of horror hangs over the book, and when it finally descends it begins slow, but quickly becomes almost unimaginable The fact that The Girl Next Door was inspired by the murder of Sylvia Likens does not cheapen it, or make it exploitative Meg is not Sylvia, and Ruth is not Gertrude There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of such cases all over the worldThere are two big Whys in this book why did Ruth begin abusing Meg and her sister Was she jealous of her youth and beauty, which painfully reminded her of her own age and hardships which tore away at her looks Did Meg remind her of her husband, who ran away with a woman who could have been her Did she think that her boys might become interested in Megthan they were in her Did she not want her authority questioned, both as a parent and a woman I think this question is not adequately answered but then again we see Ruth only from David s perspective, and although he sees her at her house he mostly spends time with her boys, and does not live with them David acknowledges that he does not understand why she did what she did destroyed a young girl.The other big why regards the Chandler children and David why did they participate in the abuse and grew increasinglyferocious, and why did David do nothing to stop them and stood idly by How could the Chandlers horribly abuse and torture Meg, and at the same time go on with their lives as if this was a perfectly ordinary thing to happen Although David does not take part in the abuse of Meg, he does not do anything to stop it or tell his own parents until it is too late Besides Meg and Susan who are both obvious innocents, David is the only decent character in the entire book yet he is not without his flaws and desires, which he himself acknowledges he peeps on Meg with the other boys, waiting for her to undress in her room, and when she doesn t even show up he is furious and begins to hate her for it, as if she disappointed him, owed him her nakedness When he does see Meg naked and in captivity, he is overcome with desire to touch her.His saving grace is that he doesn t touch Meg, but his condemnation is that he doesn t stop others from touching her, and doing worse things Of all the youths in the book, David is the only character who is at first taken aback by Meg s treatment, and eventually sees what is happening to her as something terribly wrong He is the only boy who sympathizes with Meg, and who feels ashamed at what is happening and his own role in it but this knowledge, or conscience if you will, makes him evenguilty than those who took part in her abuse The Chandler children did it all under the watchful eye of their mother if she would order them to stop, they would stop immediately If she d forbid them from hurting her, they would not hurt her But Ruth did not only not stop her sons from torturing Meg, she actively encouraged it and took part in it herself David acknowledges that this torment was Ruth s show her presence hangs above them like a ghost, even when she is not in the room with them Although Ruth set a series of rules which would justify the abuse as much for the boys, as for herself these rules eventually collapsed together with her sanity, and all the bets were off Still, even then, she watched over everything and everything was possible because she allowed it to be so.Should we hate David Condemn him for not helping Meg, not telling others about her torment It is easy for us to be outraged, even furious with him, by being entirely removed from his position and enriched by hindsight Could David possibly know what would happen to the sweet girl he first saw at the brook David does not have anyone to talk to he understand that talking to other kids is pointless although they knew that something was happening at Ruth s house some vaguely, others with specific detail not a single one of them had any opinion about it It was like a force of nature there was no point in discussing something that can t be influenced.In fact, it was not the torment that was a force of nature, but the fact that it took place under the watch and guidance of an adult In the small, suburban community in the 1950 s, adults controlled all aspects of lives of children adults were the ultimate authority, and what they said could not be questioned This was the social order on which many today look fondly upon children wouldn t even dare to challenge the actions of their parents and other adults, and corporal punishment was not only openly accepted but actively encouraged This was the whole point of it kids were supposed to be punished by adults they were supposed to be subservient to them, and obey them unquestioningly Parental love was not supposed to be easy and selfless, but exactly the opposite It was supposed to be tough love, which would adequately prepare children for many hardships which would await them in the world Kids had to be straightened out, made into proper men and women At one point David acknowledges that kids belong to their parents,body and soul we were just kids We were propertyDavid is conflicted If Ruth is an adult, a parent of his best friends and now a parental figure for Meg, then who is he to judge that what she is doing is wrong How can he know that what she is doing to Meg now will not turn out to have been right in the future after all He still feels attracted to Meg, but Ruth and her children are his old friends, who were always good to him In a memorable scene, David sees Meg approach a police officer to complain about her mistreatment Along with the other kids who witness the scene, David feels a sense of betrayal how could she tell on them, and to an adultand peculiar, scared excitement how could she upset the social order, and tell on an adult on another adultbut the police officer brushes her away he is a part of the society, and in this society children do not question their parents, much less tell on them to others He tells Meg she should think of Mrs Chandler as her mother, and that her mother would probably treat her the same way Who s to say , he asks, and does precisely nothing for which Ruth mocks and torments Meg later, telling her that she deserves punishment for trying to snitch on her Shouldn t snitches be punished David tries to talk to his father, but he is no good When David asks his father if it is ever right to hit a woman, he realizes that with his evasive and non committal answers his father is trying to justify his own lashing out at his mother, which led to the coldness and distance between them It becomes apparent that David s father does not know his own son, and that David is unable to connect with his father mostly he feels nothing for him, and if he does feel any emotion it is usually contempt Later in the book, David tries to tell his mother but realizes that he cannot although she is the only person he can tell, he realizes that by his own indifference he also took part in Meg s torment, and is unable to tell this to her He realizes that he has betrayed Meg, and sees himself as evil Does he fear that this is how his mother will also see him, or does he fear that this is who he actually is We were juveniles, writes David at the end of the book, as if legal classification could offer any explanation By now it is obvious that this entire writing is not really meant for any reader, but for himself he confesses to everything that happened now because he did not then, but just as then there is no person who can help him now He is alone and realizes this, plagued by recurring nightmares of his own failure to act, which destroy his relationships and life This is where the true horror of this book lies not description of torture and abuse They actually are not as graphic as I expected them to be they are horrific, but Ketchum doesn t focus on them I can easily see many instances in which this book could have easily turned into simple, schlock horror, but violence is limited to an effective but not overbearing level The actual horror is the gradually emerging sense of complicity in something terrible and the fact that David uses as a poor attempt at consoling himself at the beginning, but which makes things infinitely worseThat it was happening all over, not just at Ruth s house but everywhere Suburbia Shady, tree lined streets, well tended lawns and cozy homes A nice, quiet place to grow up Unless you are teenage Meg or her crippled sister, Susan On a dead end street, in the dark, damp basement of the Chandler house, Meg and Susan are left captive to the savage whims and rages of a distant aunt who is rapidly descending into madness It is a madness that infects all three of her sons and finally the entire neighborhood Only one troubled boy stands hesitantly between Meg and Susan and their cruel, torturous deaths A boy with a very adult decision to make Great, cruel cautionary tale The type that valiantly finds the Sad in Sadism This one s about the hideousness of child abuse, about Miserable Psychopaths their deep punctures that leave nothing but death and devastation behindHerein THAT form of evil, which is regularly found, sprinkled, Disneyfied previously in such forms as Cinderella, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Body Stand By Me, MiseryJewels, really, all of them, to our culture It is a summer idyll worthy of Lord of the Flies Great, cruel cautionary tale The type that valiantly finds the Sad in Sadism This one s about the hideousness of child abuse, about Miserable Psychopaths their deep punctures that leave nothing but death and devastation behindHerein THAT form of evil, which is regularly found, sprinkled, Disneyfied previously in such forms as Cinderella, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Body Stand By Me, MiseryJewels, really, all of them, to our culture It is a summer idyll worthy of Lord of the FliesAnd the children come directly from the same mold that made Stephen King s Children of the Corn but nothing so corny to be found here the parents are not as good or sympathetic as we would expect It is a devastating type of realism that I have not come to expect outside of true snuff stuff or the superb, undervalued film by Peter Jackson, Heavenly Creatures Girl is actually pretty terrific Before reading this book, you need to prepare yourself.Yes, it s going to be disturbing.Yes, it s going to turn your stomach to knots.Yes, it s going to make you very, very angry.I won t go into the plot since several reviews and the book description already do that I will say that to me, this book reveals the ugliest possible sides of human behavior, the worst being when good people do NOTHING to help Even the author is disgusted by what happened, according to his note at the back of the book Before reading this book, you need to prepare yourself.Yes, it s going to be disturbing.Yes, it s going to turn your stomach to knots.Yes, it s going to make you very, very angry.I won t go into the plot since several reviews and the book description already do that I will say that to me, this book reveals the ugliest possible sides of human behavior, the worst being when good people do NOTHING to help Even the author is disgusted by what happened, according to his note at the back of the book READ AT YOUR OWN RISK DNF.I m out.I just can t with this book any You think this is as bad as it will get and then it just gets so much worse The writing is great, yeah, yeah, blah blah I don t give a shit update an hour or so after I quit Listen, I m not faint of heart I m not a gentle spirit Horror is my favorite genre and I love my stories bleak and dark but sometimes we have to know our limits Is nothing off the table No We have to be true to ourselves As much as I think Ketchum is a powerful, br DNF.I m out.I just can t with this book any You think this is as bad as it will get and then it just gets so much worse The writing is great, yeah, yeah, blah blah I don t give a shit update an hour or so after I quit Listen, I m not faint of heart I m not a gentle spirit Horror is my favorite genre and I love my stories bleak and dark but sometimes we have to know our limits Is nothing off the table No We have to be true to ourselves As much as I think Ketchum is a powerful, brave writer who drew me into this story even as I was dragging my heels, I just couldn t hang with those details any I was angry, upset, exhausted and I just didn t want oneimage to enter my brain As it is, from what I read, I won t forget.My heart breaks for the real Meg who endured this horrific violation and for the boys who got drunk and stupid off their game of power led by an adult who was insane It s really the sickest story of human depravity and honestly, I don t recommend it to anyone you just don t need to know

  • Paperback
  • 370 pages
  • The Girl Next Door
  • Jack Ketchum
  • English
  • 21 October 2019
  • 0843955430

About the Author: Jack Ketchum

Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for a former actor, singer, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk a former flower child and baby boomer who figures that in 1956 Elvis, dinosaurs and horror probably saved his life His first novel, Off Season, prompted the Village Voice to publicly scold its publisher in print for publishing violent pornography He personally disagrees but is per Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for a former actor, singer, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk a former flower child and baby boomer who figures that in 1956 Elvis, dinosaurs and horror probably saved his life His first novel, Off Season, prompted the Village Voice to publicly scold its publisher in print for publishing violent pornography He personally disagrees but is perfectly happy to let you decide for yourself His short story The Box won a 1994 Bram Stoker Award from the HWA, his story Gone won again in 2000 and in 2003 he won Stokers for both best collection for Peaceable Kingdom and best long fiction for Closing Time He has written eleven novels, the latest of which are Red, Ladies Night, and The Lost His stories are collected in The Exit At Toledo Blade Boulevard, Broken on the Wheel of Sex, and Peaceable Kingdom His novella The Crossings was cited by Stephen King in his speech at the 2003 National Book Awards