Introduction

There is a feeling that I get from certain short stories that is probably best described like this: you know those old ghost train rides at fairgrounds? The totally over the top, clunky silly ones? You get in the nasty little cart and jolt off into the darkness, and usually get a few predictable scares, but then it all goes quiet. As you wait for the next loud noise or skeleton face to come leering at you, what actually happens is the cart somehow veers off in a totally new direction. The track you could see ahead was fake and behind some secret curtain lies the real journey you are on. It’s usually accompanied by a lurch that you feel in the pit of your stomach and that sense of powerlessness, the overwhelming, visceral punch is the feeling I’m talking about. I don’t mean plot twists or changes of pace – I mean when a writer picks you up and carries you off into an obscure territory and there is nothing you can do about it. It infantilises and elevates and educates you all at once.
 
This is my attempt to itemise some of my favourite stories with that blindside ingredient, which I am now hopelessly, horrifyingly addicted to.

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