The Dark Jar: A Collection of Short Stories by Bruce Memblatt

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Welcome to Hell, Mr. Reardon.'October 3, 2011
Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Bruce Memblatt, according to the biographical data provided, is a native New Yorker and has studied Business Administration at Pace University. In addition to writing he runs a website devoted to theater composer Stephen Sondheim, which he's lovingly maintained since 1996. His stories have been featured in such magazines as Aphellion, Bewildering Stories, The Horror Zine, Bending Spoons, Strange Weird and Wonderful, Static Movement, Danse Macabre, SNM Horror Magazine,The Piker Press, A Golden Place, Eastown Fiction, Short Story Me! 69 Flavors of Paranoia, Necrology Shorts, Suspense Magazine, Gypsy Shadow Publishing, Black Lantern Publishing, Death Head Grin, The Cynic Online, The Feathertale Review, and Yellow Mama.

What drew this reader to Bruce Memblatt was that single story in the book WHAT FEARS BECOME, a taste of someone who had a special taint for the dark side of literature. That led to the discovery of this collection of 17 short stories collectively assembled under the title of THE DARK JAR. It should come with a warning label -'Terror inside - proceed with caution'. Memblatt has that gift of making a story brief but complete, creating people in whom we believe, taking those people on a strange journey - the surprisingly terrifying ending comes as a laser blast form out of the dark. When a writer can provide that degree of shock at the very end of a story he has succeeded in entering that realm of keepers of the haunted house - or, in other words, a king of horror stories. 

Memblatt opens his collection with a very odd tale (The Last Station of a man being questioned by a couple of seemingly policemen and slowly discovers the reason behind his being held - as scary a situation as can be found. Then he moves to a graveyard to begin the story 'Return' in which a woman rises out of her grave as a skeleton, having been wrongly executed for a murder, only to return to her roots to discover a surprising truth. And then comes 'Music Man' - one of the strongest stories in a collection of 'best of the best' about Dikon, a homeless sax player who plays his horn on the same corner of New York City until he encounters a bizarre man named Virgil (yes, the spelling is intentional..). Virgil promises him a job and room to reward his talent and leads the curious Dikon into the bowels of the city where he encounters more about 'life' than expected.

The stories cover a wide range of topics and situations and characters, but each is sound and worthy of standing alone. Bruce Memblatt seems to have found his niche. Watch out, there likely will be more....Grady Harp, October 11