Do the Dead Dream?

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 8.33.15 AMFall is upon us and Halloween is nigh, so if you’re looking for a good scare (or several dozen good scares), then look no further than FP Dorchak’s anthology of short horror fiction Do the Dead Dream? Collected here are forty-five short stories spanning the entirety of Dorchak’s writing career, many of which originally appeared in such esteemed publications as Black Sheep, Apollo’s Lyre, and The Waking Muse. And in each story, Dorchak’s skills as a storyteller with a penchant for considering not just alternate realities but alternate ways of thinking about reality are on full display. In other words, Do the Dead Dream? isn’t just scary… It’s also deep.

Truth be told, things get deep pretty quickly (and literally) with a piece titled “The Wreck,” in which a diver is inexplicably and undeniably drawn to mysterious shipwreck at the bottom of the sea. In this story, gets at the heart of human desire — particularly that brand of desire that is rife with conflict: The diver in question knows that his oxygen supply is limited, yet he keeps pushing, keeps going deeper and deeper in search of the truth behind the mysterious wreck. What mysterious force keeps pushing him? Or, more accurately, what mysterious force keeps drawing him in? And, more to the point, the story all but demands, what makes all of us keep seeking truths even when doing so might work against our better interests?

The theme of searching for truth continues in the following story, “The Walkers,” which finds the member of a mysterious tribe of — well — walkers sent to the rear flank of a long march to check on rumors of death and destruction. Once again, the truth (as Fox Mulder used to say) is out there, but it certainly isn’t pleasant. Also bound up in this particular tale is some subtle commentary on class and knowledge. To wit: Do the upper echelons and decision makers of society know something the rest of us don’t? And would society fall apart if suddenly we all knew it?

Not surprisingly, the search for truth raises more questions than it answers throughout Do the Dead Dream, but for my money, that’s always a sign of good art. Indeed, it’s also a hallmark of all of Dorchak’s work, particularly his novels like Sleepwalkers and Ero. Additionally, this is a substantial volume — forty-five stories spanning nearly 500 pages — so the creepiness and intrigue will certainly carry you well past Halloween and into the new year — and probably beyond!

 

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10 comments

  1. Marc! Thank you SO much!

    I’m so glad you enjoyed my tome of the Weird and the Peculiar! WOW. My agent of five years (we had to part ways—amicably) often thought that the reason my stuff didn’t sell to the traditional houses was because it was “too thinky.” I am so honored you so enjoyed it and that YOU were my first reviewerw! Thank you for your time and words! I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Joyce Combs, my editor, Lon Kirschner, my cover artist, and Pam Headrick, my formatter!

    And isn’t Lon’s cover, um, KILLER? I feel it’s his best work!

    Stay weird (and peculiar)!

  2. Yesterday was Frank’s birthday…I have been meaning, for weeks, to post a review of DO THE DEAD DREAM?…so, in honor of his birth, and to honor the birth of this collection of his life’s work of short stories, here’s what I think:
    First of all I think Marc’s review of DTDD? tells the whole tale in a nutshell…this collection is deep. And, yes, scary. It’s also gruesome and gory at times. I was his proofreader (he graciously designates me as editor) and needed to read these several times…which in most cases was no problem…and many cases was life enhancing each and every time…but a few of them gave me the creeps at best and nightmares at worst.
    So many unexpected twists and turns occur in these stories; THE RED HAND comes to mind because I was not expecting, at all, where it ends up based on where it began. On it’s surface you’ll find it a great metaphysical mystery, but at its core is an invitation to be open to new interpretations of the unexplained and that which defies explanation.
    The macabre love stories are among my favorites. Frank has some unique takes on romance in this collection that are heart warming and heart breaking…and all, I could tell, were heartfelt. He must have a soft spot in his heart for unconditional love along with the strange spot in his mind for conditional weirdness…a really cool combination as it turns out.
    The collection begins with THE DIVE, which is outlined so well in Marc’s review. I LOVE this story…I LIVED this story each time I read it…and I read it more times than was necessary from a proof reading standpoint because the experience was palpable; and the conclusion was life altering from a metaphysical standpoint because he condensed much of the material I’ve been studying all my life into a few brilliant passages.
    There are many stories in this collection that show we are often times our best when faced with the worst…one of these, BROKEN WINDOWS, is my very favorite from DO THE DEAD DREAM? I related to it on a personal level as it took the protagonist on a journey back to childhood trauma, then opened a doorway to catharsis and closure and forgiveness.
    Frank, a belated happy birthday, and let me thank you publicly for seeking me out to assist with the delivery of your collected short stories. I gained more than I gave. JOYce

    1. Thank you so much, Joyce! you are—and continue to grow ever more increasingly—kind! You were indispensable in the creation of this anthology and I can never thank you enough—as well as for the birthday well wishes: thank you! :-]]] I could not have done this without you, and yes, you were more than “just” a proofreader. You gave great insight and picked out all of the little errors!

      And…I must add that my favorite-view-of-me-by-you is how you defined me as “ghoulishly romantic”! I love that! Yeah, I guess I have written some rather odd romantic tales, haven’t I?

      Again, thank you, Joyce!

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