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Godfather of horror and dark fantasy releases new gem

By James Argendeli
CNN Headline News

Thomas F. Monteleone's "The Mothers and Fathers Italian Association."

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(CNN) -- For almost a year, the "Book Lizard" has been giving out the scoop on novels and short story collections from some of the best small publishers, works you otherwise might have missed. And now for something quite different ...

Let the curtain rise on the godfather of horror and dark fantasy -- may I present for your reading pleasure (trust me on this one) Mr. Thomas F. Monteleone and his nonfiction column collection? It's titled "The Mothers and Fathers Italian Association."

Now that I have your attention, you may be asking yourself "What? Who?"

Let's start with "who."

Monteleone has been at the writing game since 1972, putting out short stories, novels and editing several anthologies. During that time, he collected awards for his work and praise from no less than The New York Times for "The Blood of the Lamb" -- a notable book of the year in 1993.

As for the "what": "The Mothers and Fathers Italian Association" gathers together fifty columns written from 1976 to the present. In the early work, Monteleone wrote his nonfiction on the state of science fiction -- it was his passion.

His early columns are largely about how a science fiction-loving kid ended up living his fantasy of becoming a full-time chronicler of dreams. The discipline, dedication, and pure joy in this journey is an inspiring one.

However, right when you think that all this is self-promotion, along comes Monteleone's true purpose in this collection: "To kick back in your old clothes and smile a little." Or in the case in this book, laugh a lot with tears cascading down your face.

Yes, he is that funny. Monteleone keeps reminding his readers that his columns should have some reference to horror-dark fantasy (as his later fiction writing does).

The editors of the magazines these columns originally appeared in requested just that. Monteleone does not take direction well. He writes what he wants to and damn the torpedoes!

He is not afraid to name names in his column on other writers titled "The (Pretty) Good, The (Not-So) Bad, And The (Man-This-Is-Gonna-Get) Ugly." Then, there is his column on meeting with one of his science fiction writer idols. The column -- "On Discovering Our Idols Have Balls of Clay" -- while in your face funny, is also quite touching.

In fact, that pretty much sums up the entire collection. It is a mixture of the hilarious, emotional and opinionated, but, most of all, this is a book that you will want to read passages out loud to friends.

The M.A.F.I.A collection also includes letters from past readers and footnotes with updates and bonus material.

To paraphrase Monteleone: "You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll kiss your money away."

At the end of ingesting this collection, you'll enjoy the expense.

"The Mothers and Fathers Italian Association" has been published in a signed limited edition by Borderlands Press.

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