SIN & ashes (2010, collection)


ISBN-10: 0984480242
ISBN-13: 978-0984480241

Publisher: Hippocampus Press

The world of Joe Pulver’s dreams and nightmares is a world of grim violence and death but also of strange beauty and wonder. In stories that read like poems and poems that read like incantations, Pulver weaves a sorcerer’s spell of language-tough, gritty, cheerless, but always evocative, hypnotizing, intoxicating-that lays bare the fragility of human beings on the edge of the abyss, looking down at the depths and looking up at the boundless cosmos. H. P. Lovecraft, Robert W. Chambers, and other writers of terror and the supernatural are Pulver’s touchstones, but his riffs on their tales are the work of a master craftsman who recognizes the emotive value of every sentence, phrase, and word.

A poet in every sense of the word, Pulver sees the world and the cosmos as a cauldron of death and carnage but also a platform for triumph and redemption. In these stories, sketches, prose-poems, and vignettes, Pulver evokes the wild beauty of terror in a manner that few can match. Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. is the acclaimed author of the Lovecraftian novel “Nightmare’s Disciple”, and he has written many short stories that have appeared in magazines and anthologies. His first short story collection, “Blood Will Have Its Season” (2009), was published to wide acclaim.

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Praise for SIN & ashes

“. . . I’m gawping in amazement, shaken by Pulver’s eviscerating vision. He wields language as a scalpel, a Thompson submachine gun, an axe . . . Joe Pulver calls down the fire. Joe Pulver’s the Man. He’s got the Power.” (from the introduction to SIN & ashes)
– Laird Barron, author of Occultation and The Imago Sequence

“Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. is a fine writer of prose and poetry. His collection SIN & ashes (Hippocampus Press) is a deliciously varied and ambitious collection of mostly new stories and poems of dark fantasy, weird fiction, and horror by a writer who has quickly made a name for himself in his chosen field.”
– Ellen Datlow, Multi award winning editor

“The varied subjects and settings that comprise this book’s vast canvas, coupled with the sheer number of its pieces, make giving a tale-by-tale analysis all but impossible, for Pulver’s work is a gestalt, a tsunami of image and emotion. His words are unfailingly razor-keen, his tone beautiful and horrific at once.
If you are a reader who seeks lulling escapism, this book offers no such creature comfort. Pulver tales are not the kind of stories one slips into like a warm bath. They are splashes of frigid water, which constantly jar and twist rather than flow headlong. This is what makes Sin & Ashes such a potent volume. Pulver is a writer who takes risks with each story he fashions, which in turn makes reading them exceptionally rewarding.”

– Richard Gavin, author of Omen and Charnel Wine, in “Dead Reckoning” No.9

“While everybody else in horror is still aping the shallow visual palette of cinema, Joe Pulver calls down a storm of psychotronic nightmares charged with the evocative depth and relentless pulse of the Devil’s music. This isn’t a book that wants to be a movie. This is a drug disguised as a book. Spiked with poignant wisdom and poisoned surprises and defiantly shredding expectations of how a story should work, yet SIN & ashes is not experimental. Joe Pulver knows full well what kind of cerebral explosions his ingredients will produce. SIN & ashes is an iconoclastic revolt, and a devastating reminder of the unique, unmatchable power of well-wielded words.”
– Cody Goodfellow, author of Radiant Dawn

“Joe Pulver’s SIN & ashes is a messed up (and I mean Cronenberg messed up) splicing of William S. Burroughs and Thomas Ligotti. Add a whiskey chaser. After reading these vibrant and weird stories with their assorted devils and down-and-outs, I kinda want to party with Joe. But I think I’m too scared to.”
– Paul Tremblay, author of The Little Sleep and In the Mean Time

“Joseph S Pulver, Sr. is a thunderous scribe of dark fiction. His poetry slams into you, cracking through flesh and bone to the real meat beneath. SIN & ashes is his mighty hammer, deftly wielded and smithed on Hephaestus’s great anvil. This is no book for the faint of heart. Filled with hard boiled goodness and devastating imagery, Pulver proves his is a talent to be reckoned with, and cements his rightful place as one of the most interesting voices in the genre. I am both awed and humbled by his power.”
– Simon Strantzas, author of Beneath the Surface

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Table of Contents

Death’s Head Blues (Introduction), by Laird Barron
Love Her Madly
She’s Waiting . . .
First There Is A Mountain . . . Then
In This Desert Even the Air Burns
Even Night
Crow in Trick Town
When the Deal Goes Down
Devil’s Got the Walkin’ Blues
Dead ’Round Here Tonight
The Delirium of a Worm-Wizard
As the Sun Still Burns Away
Caligari, Again
Long-Stemmed Ghost Words
When the Moon Comes to Call
After Reading Michaux’s “In the Land of Magic”
The Walking Man Walks
Silent No Longer
The Maiden of the Pines
Last Year in Carcosa
Scarlet Obeisance
Rendezvous Under Shadow Bridge
in front of an empty house in dead city
Ain’t No Love on the Street
Perfect Grace
Kynothrabian Dirge
The Exorcism of Iagsat
Lonesome Separate Ways
Just Another Desert Night with Blood
After Death
I Often Dream of Words
Forever Changes
In the White Walls of Silence
Mother Stands for Comfort
Blow Wind Blow
8’s & Aces
A One-Way Fare
Don’t Look Back
Long is the way and hard . . .
huddled in rags in a Kingsport alley . . .
Dead Ends and Empties
Sharp Fangs + Blood = Murder
Saint Nicholas Hall
Funeral in a Hate Field
An Orange Tick-Tick-Tick-Tick-Tick
The Last Few Nights in a Life of Frost
Epilogue for Two Voices
To Live and Die in Arkham
The Last Twenty Miles of Wandering Again

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Reviews for SIN & ashes

“When reading Mr. Pulver’s SIN & Ashes I became absorbed while skimming the surface of his prose. I feel stopping to read carefully blows the momentum of the strong imagery his text puts out. It doesn’t need to be seen up close, the impact of his word choices come out and create their imagery. About the only way I can attempt to describe this process is to use a Church metaphor (likely inspired by “Delirium of A Worm-Wizard”); when the Mass was still in Latin, you didn’t necessarily have to understand the immediate word’s meaning to know you were listening and speaking liturgical language, which works on one’s head. Once it went into the vernacular, it lost something that can’t come back; the mystery disappeared with the holy ghost.”
– Alanna Quinn, please find the complete review at: She Never Slept

“SIN & Ashes, the new collection of short stories by Joe Pulver Sr., is a heady blend of rock ‘n roll, sex, death, and insanity. Inside its pages Pulver offers us a dance through the ribbons of his mind. And we accept, because there is something about his vision of a world, so dark and yet so vividly colorful, that is impossible to resist. Each word is delivered in that uniquely poetic style of his, giving us a glimpse into the seedy underbelly of urban decay and rural despair; daring us to consider if it is really human nature that has brought us so low or if otherworldly hands from Carcosa or R’lyeh might have played some role in our downfall.
He opens with Love Her Madly, then barrels ahead like a loosed bull through a land of serial murderers and revenge and cold, cold torture. The tension ebbs and flows as the pages turn; sometimes bitter and terse, other times graceful and melodic, but in every vibrant phrase you sense a hint of something dangerous and feral, just waiting to snare you. Like the slightly too-sweet smell of fruit just before it begins to rot, his words, even when they are breathlessly beautiful, teeter on the edge of lunacy and depravity.”

– “Strange Aeons” No.3


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