“And while I am being accosted by people who need cures or aids for their worldliness, I am watching you, dear somnambule. Watching you waltz about this remarkable room. It is not like the other rooms in this great house. Someone let Fancy have its wild way in here. It harkens back to a time, centuries ago, when your somnambulating predecessors did their sleepwalking act for high society. You fit in so well with this room of leftover rococo. It's a delight to see you make your way about the irregular circumference of this room, where the wall undulates in gentle peaks and hollows, its surface sinewed with a maze of chinoiserie. The serpentine pattern makes it difficult to distinguish the wall’s recesses from its protrusions. Some of the guests shift their weight wallwards and find themselves leaning on air, stumbling sideways like comedians from an old movie. But you, my perfect sleepwalker, have no trouble; you lean at the right times and in the right places. And your eyes play beautifully to whatever camera focuses on you; indeed, you take so many of your cues from others that one might suspect you of having no life of your own. Let's sincerely hope not!
Now I watch as you are encouraged to be seated in an elegant chair of blinding brocade, its delicate arms the texture of cartilage and its color like some powdery disc in a woman's cosmetics case. Your high heels make subtle points in the intricate scheme of the carpet, puncturing its arabesque flights of imagination. Now I watch as our host draws you over to the bar he has hospitably set up in this cornerless room. He waves his hand and indicates to you the many bottleshapes to choose from, shapes both normale and baroque. The baroquely shaped bottles are doing more interesting things with light and shadow than their normal brothers, and you select one of these with a gesture of robotic finesse. He pours two drinks while you watch, and while you watch I am watching you watch. Guiding you to another part of the room, he shows you a tableful of delicate figurines, each one caught in a paralyzed stance of some ancient dance. He places one of them in your hand, and you pass it back and forth before your unfocused eyes, as if trying to awaken yourself with this distraction of movement. But you never will, not without my help.”
Available for Pre-Order: THE SECRET OF VENTRILOQUISM by Jon Padgett
"Padgett... proves with his stunning debut collection [to be] a worthy successor to the master [Thomas Ligotti]. There's no gristle, no bone, no dilly-dallying here: only pure meat whose terrors seamlessly grow into the metaphysical... this volume is jam-packed with the stuff that nightmares are made of."
- Dejan Ognjanovic, Rue Morgue Magazine
"...a voice that lodges in the reader’s mind with colossal force and intensity, marking... this book as unforgettable."
- Matt Cardin, from the Introduction
"The Secret of Ventriloquism is horror with a capital H. Some of Padgett's lines raised the hair on my neck."
-Laird Barron, author of Swift to Chase
Limited Edition Hardcover
Cover and interior art by Dave Felton
With themes reminiscent of Shirley Jackson, Thomas Ligotti, and Bruno Shulz, but with a strikingly unique vision, Jon Padgett's The Secret of Ventriloquism heralds the arrival of a significant new literary talent. Padgett’s work explores the mystery of human suffering, the agony of personal existence, and the ghastly means by which someone might achieve salvation from both. A bullied child who seeks vengeance within a bed’s hollow box spring; a lucid dreamer haunted by an impossible house; a dummy that reveals its own anatomy in 20 simple steps; a stuttering librarian who holds the key to a mill town's unspeakable secrets; a commuter whose worldview is shattered by two words printed on a cardboard sign; an aspiring ventriloquist who spends a little too much time looking at himself in a mirror. And the presence that speaks through them all.
Introduction by Matt Cardin
The Mindfulness of Horror Practice
Murmurs of a Voice Foreknown
The Indoor Swamp
20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism
The Secret of Ventriloquism