Tales of Pain and Wonder is Caitlín R. Kiernan's first short story collection. The stories are interconnected to varying degrees, and a number of Kiernan's characters reappear throughout the book, particularly Jimmy DeSade and Salmagundi Desvernine. The stories run the gamut from dark fantasy ("Rats Live on No Evil Star" and "Estate") to ghost stories and supernatural horror fiction ("Angels You Can See Through" and "Anamorphosis") to noir fiction ("Breakfast in the House of the Rising Sun" and "Lafayette"). A number of the stories have a decidedly H. P. Lovecraftian flavor and the influence of Charles Fort, as does much of Kiernan's fiction published since Tales of Pain and Wonder. The stories are also united by a theme of cultural decay and loss of meaning in 20th-century society, as expressed by the collection's epilogue, Kiernan's only published poem, "Zelda Fitzgerald in Ballet Attire." Originally published in 2000 as an expensive limited-edition hardback by Gauntlet Publishing, it was reissued in trade paperback format in 2002 by Meisha Merlin Publishing. In 2008, Subterranean Press re-issued the book again, in a limited edition hardcover, with a new author's introduction and two new stories, "Mercury" and "Salammbô Redux", and omitting the story "Angels You Can See Through". All three editions include artwork by Canadian illustrator Richard A. Kirk, as well as an introduction by anthologist/novelist Douglas E. Winter and an afterword by novelist Peter Straub.
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