Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. has attracted a worldwide audience for his stories, vignettes, and prose-poems—works that expand the boundaries of prose expression and evoke scintillating images of wonder, fear, terror, and heartbreak. In this fourth collection of tales, we find imaginative riffs on Edgar Allan Poe, Robert W. Chambers, H. P. Lovecraft, and others—but more than that, we find the evocative melding of horror and plangency that makes Pulver the most distinctive voice in modern weird fiction.
The late Joe Pulver was a pillar of the weird fiction community—yes, there is such a thing! His guiding star was Robert W. Chambers; it's been said that Pulver is from Carcosa and returned there after his passing in 2020. This collection shows of Pulver's vivid imagination and his aggressive attitude toward the page itself. (You'll see what I mean.) It's an honor to include his work here, and to make A House of Hollow Wounds available as an ebook for the very first time. – Nick Mamatas
"Pulver's skills as a post-Beat visionary are in rare form. A House of Hollow Wounds is a thrilling foray into the dark frontier of the weird."– Laird Barron
"The pieces assembled in A House of Hollow Wounds demonstrate the range of Joe Pulver's considerable talent. . . . Like Picasso, Pulver moves restlessly, relentlessly from style to style, never content with what he has accomplished, chasing after some fabulous and deadly beast half-glimpsed around the corners of a maze. Dizzying, exhilarating stuff."– John Langan
"[Pulver] is typically compared to a Lovecraftian version of the Beats, but A House of Hollow Wounds is in my opinion closer in style and emotional tone to French Decadent writers such as Baudelaire, Huysmans, and Rodenbach. It's both wildly modern and original, and yet evokes those unsettling gothic and classical 'vast chthonic wilderness pressing agaisnt the slender marble columns of civilization' themes that are like heroin to me. Dark, poetic, sexual, obsessive, and exquisitely hallucinatory."– Livia Llewellyn
Injuries ... that changed me completely—
Insults—at length, and wrongs, open wounds wailing. Too many to count.
Intoxication, the pavement—my tottering gait no longer heeding the counsel of steadiness, the palm of my hand finding a wall to collect my balance, the cathedral's misinformed design above, another succession of careening steps ... Along with the colorful comedies of eager visitors seeking pleasure, and hypocrisy and the come hither lights, noting the sea of masks, each velvety—Venus beguiling an Adonis, each hawk or opiate-soft black cat a magnet, about us shops of brightly colored glass and exceptional lace, and the summertime eyes of daughters dancing or hoping to, we strode through the carnival on the way to the promised ... Amontillado.
My weakness ... and the complexities of my pride.
Knocked from my better senses by drink. How many cups had I emptied? More than a few bottles most would wager. I might smile and attempt to wave away the assessment, but it would not change the truth of it.
Shut away—imprisoned like the great pharaohs of the desert sands. Removed from the cradle of the world by my folly and Montresor's cold gale of greed and the damning violation of his laughter.
Cut out. Not ready for, or aware of, the danger.
Lured by lies. By the scheme of the black-masked cur.
Unflickering darkness, a region of iron suffocation. Damp and filled with nevermore.
Beyond small tears. Me, all the whirling parts, fractured, filled with urge and spirits.
Through the nitre-draped catacombs to the chains I walked with the murderer.
The cold gaze of hostile eyes. Above the wispy frame, that face, dauntless—a brick of greed, carved of shadows and things in the shadows. In the torchlight, the sensations in my stomach could find no safety. The eyes. What they held. I was a prince no more. All of me, going away ... Some wretched creature bound in nightmare, all the shames and discomforts, rushing over the edge, imprisoning my fear in a foul breeze.
Alone in the blackness. Fearing—fearing.
Confused for a moment, but sobering. The pitch of my alarm finding new heights. Chained to the darkness. Chained. Then it struck me—
But not alone ...
I had friends in the tomb. Friends who know buttress and braces, vigorous allies who are not tortured. Allies with more power than a trowel, midnight and mortar and iron staples are not chains for them.
Plastered up in the blackness I heard them, tiny clicking claws thriving under the sound of The Bells. Squeaking—a hundred and a hundred voices, an uncountable wave behind them. Sniffing dusty surfaces where no fire or spark gives color to the forgotten. Tails, whiskers, appetites fast as nameless crows reshaping the sky.
"Come forth and end my suffering. Rush to my aid, brothers. I, too, serve the Purposes in Solitude."
And come to me they did.