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THE LOST DISTRICT by Joel Lane. San Francisco, CA; Night Shade Books; 2006. 1st edition trade paperback.

- As a critic of the macabre, in closeness of reading and clarity of insight, Joel Lane is unsurpassed. As a fiction writer he's just as intelligent and keen-eyed. His prose is spare and sharp, his vision is bracingly bleak. He's one of the absolute treasures of our field.- - Ramsey Campbell, Author of The Overnight, and The Darkest Part of the Woods.

Joel Lane follows his award-winning collection The Earth Wire (1994) with a still darker and more subversive assemblage of strange tales. The Lost District links the hidden places in urban and small-town landscapes to the hidden places in human lives. Set in a post-industrial hinterland of the present, the near future, and the imagined, these stories portray human encounters with the unknown: sexual discovery, drug-inspired visions, the lonely paths of madness, and the shadowy realm on the other side of death.

Here you will read of a porn film actor whose scars reveal the forces controlling his life; an underground factory where outsiders pay a terrible price in order to belong; a musician haunted by the madness of a dead singer; a neighborhood fading into corrupt echoes of itself; and a man who literally follows his ex-lover to the end of the world.

These 24 stories (including 6 published here for the first time) range from grim urban horror tales to weird erotic fantasies and bitter allegories of loss and exploitation. The lovers, loners, fetishists, addicts, and wild talents who haunt these pages have one thing in common. They are answering the call of the unknown. This book is your guide to the lost districts of the body, the mind, and the soul.


The Lost District, The Pain Barrier, The Bootleg Heart, Scratch, Coming of Age, Mine, Prison Ships, Like Shattered Stone, Among the Dead, The Window, The Quiet Hours, Exposure, The Outside World, The Country of Glass, The Night That Wins, Against My Ruins, The Only Game, Contract Bridge, Beyond the River, The Plans They Made, The Drowned, Reservoir, An Unknown Past, You Could Have It All, Art by JK Potter, design by Claudia Noble.

“If you haven’t read Joel Lane, you have no idea how beautiful dark fiction can be.” – Michael Marshall, author of Blood of Angels and Upright Man

“Joel Lane’s writing is rich, beautiful and painfully perceptive, and he is without doubt one of the finest fantasists writing today.” – Tim Lebbon, author of Dusk and Face

“Joel Lane is engaged in the task of pinning back the wings of darkness. In this he is protected by the amulets of resolute, precise writing and an unflinching moral eye. The effect is one of remarkable deliverance. This is a stunning collection from one of the very finest short story writers working today.” – Graham Joyce, author of The Limits of Enchantment and Smoking Poppy

“Joel Lane’s imagination is bleak. But it is also the imagination of a poet…. These stories are a kind of political gothic; but they’re also a look at the contemporary soul, depicted as a collision between Jacob’s Ladder and the 24-hour news channel: this renders them so genuinely horrific you want to look away. Too late. You’re hooked.” – M. John Harrison, author of Light and The Course of the Heart

“Over the past twenty years Joel Lane has quietly and prolifically built up a body of work that has brilliantly chronicled lives led in the wastelands of the UK, as well as charting some of the awful territories that exist within all of us. His prose is honest, unflinching and horribly gorgeous. In my opinion, he is a writer without equal.” – Conrad Williams, author of London Revenant, and Use Once, Then Destroy

“Joel Lane is a master at creating moods of disturbing and disorientating strangeness set against backgrounds of urban decay.” – Karl Edward Wagner, editor of The Years Best Horror series

“Joel Lane’s writing has the quality of dark glass shattered and reconstituted.” – Joseph O’Neill, author of Breezes, and Blood-Dark Track

“Joel Lane draws us into an alarming world where the simple realities of his characters’ lives are liable to give way, at the turn of a page, to strange miracles and surreal horrors described in a language of almost visionary intensity.” – Jonathan Coe, author of The Closed Circle, and The Rotters' Club.


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