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The Devils in the Details by James P.…

The Devils in the Details (original 2003; edition 2003)

by James P. Blaylock, Tim Powers (Author), Phil Parks (Illustrator)

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542218,071 (3.54)2
Title:The Devils in the Details
Authors:James P. Blaylock
Other authors:Tim Powers (Author), Phil Parks (Illustrator)
Info:Subterranean Press (2003), Edition: Limited, Hardcover, 115 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fantasy, contemporary fantasy, ghost stories, humor, horror, limited edition, signed, hardcover fiction, collection, illustrated, author's notes, Subterranean Press

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The Devils in the Details by James P. Blaylock (2003)

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    High Spirits by Robertson Davies (grizzly.anderson)
    grizzly.anderson: A collection of academically themed ghost stories.

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Blaylock and Powers have been collaborating for thirty years, often implicitly influencing each other and sometimes, like here, collaborating on stories with both their names on them. Fans of either should appreciate the brief account of that collaboration in this book's afterward and introduction and, specifically, the comments on the volume's three stories.

As is typical for his shorter work, Powers abandons his characteristic secret histories. In "Through and Through", a weary, lukewarm priest confronts a ghost in the confessional and rethinks the power and significance of Catholic ritual. But, if we don't get an epic combining of magic and history, Powers still works in some interesting thoughts on the Garden of Eden.

The modern obsession with inclusivity on college campuses is satirized in Blaylock's "The Devil in the Details". A college president's attempt to build a Christian chapel is thwarted by forces both silly and sinister.

I must admit that I appreciated and understood Powers' and Blaylock's collaboration "Fifty Cents" more after reading Blaylock's afterward. But, even on the first reading, the protagonist's quest -- searching in used bookstores for a book once given to him by his dead wife -- and the odd characters he meets in his drive through the desert Southwest, kept me interested.

Each story gets its own introductory illustration, and Blaylock's afterword is in the form of an inserted pamphlet.

Collectors or fans of either of these authors will want this book not only for the stories but the accounts of a longstanding literary friendship. ( )
  RandyStafford | Dec 14, 2011 |
"Here are three stories by Blaylock and me - one by each of us and one that's a collaboration." So says Tim Powers in his introduction, and in his afterword Blaylock says "Both of us had come up with a story of our own involving things of the spirit, so to speak, and so we agreed that the collaborative story should work as a companion to the others."

In many ways the information the two authors provide about the stories, and particularly about their collaboration is as interesting as the stories themselves. It is clearly evident that they have been good friends and informal collaborators for a long time. The process of the manuscript changing hands and growing at the beginning as well as the end is an apt one for a story about death and meeting ghosts traveling back through time. That's the third story, 50 cents, although it is also a story rife with metaphors and allegory. I think Blaylock and Powers just enjoyed seeing how much they could cram into 30 pages without it actually feeling overblown.

Blalyock's solo story is the longest of them, telling the tale of a college chapel being built by a committee so determined not to favor or offend one religion for another that becomes altogether unholy. It is also the story of an academic who wants nothing more than to leave the modern academic world behind.

The first, and shortest, story is Powers's Through and Through which tells the story of a priest that has left the moldy old strictures behind, only to find value in them again and in place of the looser, more modern interpretations, when confronted with a ghost seeking absolution.

A decent enough collection of stories, but nothing stellar, and really only of interest to a Powers or Blaylock completest. ( )
  grizzly.anderson | Jun 21, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James P. Blaylockprimary authorall editionscalculated
Powers, Timmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Parks, PhilIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Collection of three fantasy stories by Tim Powers and James P. Blaylock.


Introduction by Tim Powers
"Through and Through" by Tim Powers
"The Devil in the Details" by James P. Blaylock
"50 Cents" by James P. Blaylock and Tim Powers
Mexican Food: An Afterword by James P. Blaylock (listed on contents page but inserted as a chapbook due to a production error)
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