WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU by John Burke, intro by Nicholas Royle. Ashcroft, BC; Canada; Ash-Tree Press; 2000. 1st edition hardcover.
'Not until after her death did his mother actually come to live with them full-time.'
Thus begins John Burke's 'One Day You'll Learn', a chilling ghost story in which a monstrous woman refuses to loosen her hold on her son and his family, even after her death. Many of Burke's stories concern the dead, and the power which they continue to wield over the living; a power which is, almost without exception, cold, malevolent, and without pity.
Not all of John Burke's stories concern ghosts, however. The author prefers the term 'tales of unease' to describe his writings; and in all his stories a sense of unease is effortlessly conjured up, whether the author is concerned with beings from beyond the grave or with the powerful forces for violence and evil contained in human beings. There is also, however, a lighter side to Burke's writings; and in stories such as 'Flitting Tenant' and 'Collaboration', the author shows us a world in which the dead and the living exist (more or less) peacefully side by side.
We've Been Waiting For You collects together twenty-two of John Burke's tales of unease, which have (with one exception) appeared in print over the past five decades. The volume concludes with 'And Cannot Come Again', a story which Nicholas Royle, in his introduction, calls 'one of the most affecting stories I have read'; a story which combines dream and nightmare to stunning effect, and shows why John Burke's tales deserve a place on the shelf of every admirer of supernatural fiction.
JOHN BURKE (b. 1922) is perhaps best known to enthusiasts of the genre for the three volumes of 'uneasy tales' which he edited: Tales of Unease (1966), More Tales of Unease (1969), and New Tales of Unease (1976), and for his series of novels featuring occult detective Dr Caspian and his assistant Bronwen Powys: The Devil's Footsteps (1976), The Black Charade (1977), and Ladygrove (1978). But his literary output, since his first novel, Swift Summer (1949), which won an Atlantic Award in Literature from the Rockefeller Foundation, has covered a much wider range of subjects than those contained in this volume—from British Topography to a study of Roman Britain; from a study of Czechoslovakia to novelisations of popular films and television series. We've Been Waiting For You is the first collection entirely devoted to Mr Burke's 'uneasy' short stories, an event which is long overdue.
CONTENTS: Introduction by Nicholas Royle; Foreword by John Burke; 'The Loiterers'; 'The Lost Child'; 'Party Games'; 'Don't You Dare'; 'Casualty'; 'Lucille Would Have Known'; 'Flitting Tenant'; 'Handfast'; 'Calculated Nightmare'; 'Collaboration'; 'Leave of Absence'; 'The Right Ending'; 'False Harmonic'; 'One Day You'll Learn'; 'The Tourists'; 'Be Our Guest'; 'For You, The Possessed'; 'A Game of Consequences'; 'A Comedy of Terrors'; 'The Custodian'; 'We've Been Waiting For You'; 'And Cannot Come Again'.
Jacket art is by Jason Van Hollander. Limited to 500 copies. Fine in fine dj.