I've just finished Dale Bailey's short story collection "The Resurrection Man's Legacy and Other Stories," and found it moving, even haunting, and beautifully wrought. Dale is an old Clarion Writers' Workshop classmate of mine, and I remember watching his fiction mature quickly over the short six weeks of the program -- none of his classmates were surprised when one of our instructors, the then-editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, bought one of his workshop stories.
Dale is from the south, and his work a full of moody southern gothic imagery, but it's a modern gothic, so that all of his stories seem to take place in a magic place that is part nostalgic 1960s Ray Bradbury territory, part modern, hard-boiled turf. There are ghost stories and horror stories here, but also science fiction and fantasy stories. They're all quite melancholy, but they sparkle with people doing good to one another as well.
I'm especially fond of the first two stories in the collection: The Resurrection Man's Legacy and Death and Suffrage. The former is the title story of the collection, and it's a fine, weird baseball story about a boy who is raised by a robot after his father dies. The robot teaches him to play ball, and then keeps his spinster aunt company after he goes away to the pro leagues. The descriptive stuff in this one is so lush that you can practically smell and taste the dusty house, the back fields, and the characters are drawn with sure and deft strokes, complete people who are neither good nor bad, but both by turns.
In Death and Suffrage, the dead rise up and vote after a DNC operative loses his cool on a talk show and savages his Republican opponent for being soft on gun control. The dead literally claw their way out of their graves on November 4 and demand the vote. This makes the story sound political, but it isn't, quite. It's the story of this political operative and how he got to be where he was, and what happened afterward. It's as good a story as I've ever read, the kind of thing that makes you laugh and then makes you nervous.
One of the stories, In Green's Dominion, is online at SciFiction, so you can check it out. The collection itself is a lovely hardcover from Golden Gryphon Press, who ship the kind of well-made artisanal product that is a treat to hold in your hands (and the great John Picacio cover doesn't hurt at that).
She frowned, glancing at the weed-grown churchyard and the crumbling building beyond. A right shoddy job he was doing of it, then. Someone ought to see about him.
Only then did she register the fact that he had answered her question. "A green man," he'd said. "They all have them."
It was true. Surveying the little cluster of graves, she caught glimpses of that odd, somehow frightening face peering out at her from the weathered sigil atop each stone. Those oddly slanted eyes. That curling tongue.
She looked back at the stranger. "Like in the poem?"
He shrugged. "I wouldn't know about that."