“The Deadly Streets” by Harlan Ellison / Reviewed by Clay Stafford

A collection of stories every short story writer and reader should know about:  Harlan Ellison’s The Deadly Streets.

The Deadly Streets by Harlan Ellison

Subterranean Press is the epitome of cool.  I have thought so for years.  Books such as The Deadly Streets a reissue by Harlan Ellison continue to confirm it.  This is a wonderful collection of visceral short stories, all with the take of violence on the street.

This is the second reissue of Ellison’s classic 1958 collection.  (The first reissue was in 1975 when Ellison added five additional stories.)

Harlan Ellison is an incredible storyteller and there is not a dud in the mix.  I personally consider these stories classics, among them a tied-up man terrified of rats; a boy who wants to kill a cop; a gang that takes care of their own, even their dead; a man who talks too much; a girl trying to hold her own against the rest of a male gang.  In all, sixteen thematically connected original and violent stories.  Though most are written prior to 1958, the writing, the characters, the plotting, and the situations still hold true.  The “daddy-o’s” didn’t bother me a bit and the prose goes down like a teenager in a log flume.

After reading this collection, you philosophically will never view city sidewalks the same, but just as importantly for our Killer Nashville writers, studying these stories is one of the best lessons in learning how to write a short story.  Harlan Ellison can write.  The stories contained in this volume are one of the best short story writing textbooks you’ll ever find, and one I would encourage every short story writer to study.  Have a mental dialogue with Ellison as you go along.  He will teach you well.

Tune in next time when I talk about a new psychological mystery series I’ve discovered and why I’m now hooked.  (As though I don’t have enough to read.)

Until then, read like someone is burning the books!

Clay Stafford
- Clay Stafford is an author / filmmaker (www.ClayStafford.com) and founder of Killer Nashville (www.killernashville.com). He reviews books daily for Killer Nashville’s Book of the Day. Publishers Weekly has named Stafford and Killer Nashville as one of the top 10 Nashville literary leaders playing “an essential role in defining which books become bestsellers” not only in middle-Tennessee, but also extending “beyond the city limits and into the nation’s book culture.”  (PW 6/10/13)  Having over 1.5 million copies of his own books in print, Stafford’s latest projects are the feature documentary “One of the Miracles” (www.oneofthemiracles.com) and the music CD “XO” (www.jefferdeaverxomusic.com).


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