Minneapolis' Eric Hanson is well known as an illustrator. His instantly recognizable line drawings have appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and other magazines and newspapers. He's also illustrated the jackets of books by everyone from Kingsley Amis to John Waters — to himself, Eric Hanson.
The author of one previous book, Hanson has a collection of stories, "What I Was Afraid Of," just out from Tartarus Press in England.
"You have come to the wrong place if you want any of it explained," the narrator of the opening story says. "I was just a child." And that is a good guide for the rest of the book.
These are stories out of the Twilight Zone, dark dreams of weird and sinister happenings. Things don't always add up; actions might not make sense.
In one story, the narrator sees a man on the street who had died years ago in a fire. In another, a little boy who lives alone dreams that he has parents — and when he wakes up, his dream has come true. (But that's not necessarily a good thing.) And in another, a girl, "four, maybe five" has desires and appetites far beyond her years.
The last piece in the book, "What I Was Afraid Of," is the only bit of nonfiction in the book. Part of a memoir, it begins, "Childhood, from what I can remember of it, is a routine boredom punctuated by anxiety."
The stories in this book skip the boredom, head straight to the anxiety. A dark, disturbing yet undeniably fascinating read.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune senior editor for books.
What I Was Afraid Of
By: Eric Hanson.
Publisher: Tartarus Press, 237 pages, $52.