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The Best Short Stories of Cliff Burns (1985-2009) by Cliff Burns

A selection of the best short fiction by Canadian cult writer, Cliff Burns 

I have well over 100 published short stories to my credit and you can also toss in appearances in fifteen major anthologies around the world (including a number of “Best Of . . . ” volumes). I love the short story format and coming back to it this summer after spending the four years previous working on my “Ilium” novel cycle was exciting and inspiring.

I think you’ll find a good cross-section of my work in this selection of tales, culled from the past 25 years . . . and also get some idea as to why one commentator referred to my particular and unique oeuvre as “Twilight Zone on acid stories”.

My influences include the likes of Philip K. Dick, Jorge Luis Borges, William S. Burroughs, Harlan Ellison, David Cronenberg and Terry Gilliam. Depending on who you ask, I’m a surrealist, a fabulist . . . or you can take the word of Governor-General Award winning author Timothy Findley, who called my work “the literary equivalent of Far Side cartoons”.

Note: The Best Short Stories of Cliff Burns (1985-2009) contains some graphic sexual content, graphic violence, and harsh language.

A collection of stories

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Listed: Sep 16, 2009


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"The Literary Equivalent of Far Side Cartoons"

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Dec 7, 2010: My favourite story in this collection "Printed Matter" has a distinctive format: it takes the form of a series of letters from a recluse to the editor of his favourite mail order book company – and with each letter it becomes more and more apparent that at least one of them is very, very, scarily sick! You really wonder where this one is going as you read it! Brilliant – he gets the tone of the letters just right, to the typo.

In general, "exploring dark corners of the human psyche" describes the sort of stories you will find on this site, but they vary from realistic slices of life to the surreal or futuristic, and from depressing to sly humour. My personal reactions to the stories ranged from fascination to sympathy for the characters to relative indifference. Some were more memorable than others, but they’re all quite original.

Another one not to miss, in my recommendation, is "Bedevilled", which keeps you guessing whether the mentally disturbed protagonist is paranoid or really being haunted. The author’s own favourite "Daughter" tells the weird, chilling story of a family where dysfunctional is not really the word.

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