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::Compositions for The Young and Old::



A jar that holds your deepest secrets and fears. A fireman confronts his past while trying to save a group of children who have fallen through thin ice. A preacher's daughter goes to fantastic and desperate lengths to write a book like Mark Twain. A man who cures people's pain and sadness through laughter finds his greatest challenge in a little boy. In this debut collection by Chizine editor Paul G. Tremblay, there are twenty stories following the chronological arc of a human life. Twenty stories about the young and old, and everyone in-between.

Introduction by the author of A PRAYER FOR THE DYING and THE NIGHT COUNTRY, Stewart O'Nan.

"Tremblay's disturbing debut story collection runs the gamut from straight-up horror through SF to psychological sketches of troubled souls."

--Publisher's Weekly

"Paul Tremblay is a storyteller of the highest order--edgy, sensitive and fearless. As a horror writer, he possesses the deadliest secret: he knows where we live."

--Stewart O'Nan, author of A PRAYER FOR THE DYING, THE NIGHT COUNTRY, and FAITHFUL

"Paul Tremblay is one of the better short-story writers working today. His eye is both compassionate and merciless -- a rare combination -- and he has a genuine gift for language. He deserves all the acclaim he has received and much, much more. ."

--Poppy Z. Brite, author of LIQUOR and PRIME.

"There’s also Stoughton resident Tremblay, a high-school math teacher whose wryly told short stories are more Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club) than best-selling bogeyman Koontz...Using horror the way Kurt Vonnegut used science fiction, Tremblay’s work is deadpan, ironic, sometimes twisted, even hip. A few of the pieces in his short-story collection COMPOSTIONS FOR THE YOUNG AND OLD, a compilation inspired by a Bob Mould song, wouldn’t seem out of place in McSweeney’s."

--Camille Dodero, BOSTON PHOENIX

"Ultimately what makes this collection work isn't the disparity of the different stories but the catholicism of their concerns, regardless of age or individual situations. The macabre desperation of most of the characters, their sudden reversals of fortune, become poignant in the midst of the world that is, at best, in an advanced state of decomposition."

--Alan DeNiro, Rain Taxi, reviewer

"Less a collection of frights than a chronological study of life and the obstacles both real and surreal that stand in the way of contentment, Paul Tremblay's debut collection deserves to be ranked alongside the work of such masters as Twain, Conrad and Bradbury. With a confident hand, Tremblay forces us to look, not at alien worlds populated with strangers, but into the mirror, and a disturbing view of ourselves. Compositions for the Young and Old is essential reading."

--Kealan Patrick Burke, author of THE TURTLE BOY, THE HIDES, and RAVENOUS GHOSTS

"Beyond his ideas, beyond his skillful narrative, Paul Tremblay's work is imbued with something that many writers, as technically proficient as they might be, lack - and that is humanity. As with Kurt Vonnegut, Tremblay's work is threaded through with a great compassion and empathy for his characters and it is this emotional content that sets it apart from so many other genre writers. Whether it be a young boy or an old man, the characters and stories in CftYaO are all managed with a keen sense of compassion from Tremblay and it is this which makes his work so mature and appealing…"

--Simon Logan author of I-O.

"Paul Tremblay is an author of deep vision and intense literate style....One of the finest collections I’ve read in years.."

--David Niall Wilson, CEMETERY DANCE reviewer, author of DEEP BLUE

"What makes these stories stand out is Tremblay's artistic ability to effortlessly combine all the literary elements of setting, character, plot, and theme into highly engaging tales about the human condition."

--HELLNOTES review, Chris Welch

"This collection of short stories uses characters of every age bracket – and their points of view – to hit the reader hard in their deepest fears. From abandonment to Alzheimer's, Tremblay finds a way to connect the story with the reader, and from there he picks at every wound until it is exposed. He alternates between gritty noir to eloquent prose, providing tales tailor-made to any audience. "

--The Horror Channel, Scott A. Johnson

"The first thing you'll notice about Paul Tremblay's brilliant debut collection is his range. Not only does this guy have storyteller in his genes, but a one or two hit, repetitive and revivisected wonder he most definitely is not. COMPOSITIONS FOR THE YOUNG AND OLD is an amazing story arc documenting the life of every man and the poignant self-examinations that ensue if we are to understand our place in this world. Here are life lessons told with a craftsmanship rarely seen in genre fiction."

--Brian A. Hopkins, multi-award winning author of EL DIA DE LOS MUERTOS

"Paul G. Tremblay writes so cleanly, you can't find a speck of dust in the workings of a story he's had his hands on. The flow of the words is smooth, the dialogue true, the descriptions sparse and evocative--you see the characters not through his eyes, but through your own, by way of well-chosen words that don't bog your mind's eye down with detail, but trigger a familiar vision already in your experience. In short stories, he is Bradbury-esque in his control of what is shown, what is said."

--Brett Savory, author of THE DISTANCE TRAVELED and IN AND DOWN

"There's a part of the human mind where each person stores the things that make their hands flinch back reflexively. They're the things we find in old attic boxes, or hidden in forgotten treehouses. We flinch back for primal or deeply ingrained personal reasons - instincts that tell us these things are bad, possibly dangerous, and no amount of reasoning can overcome our primary reflex to jerk our fingers away. Paul G. Tremblay is a master of grabbing that part of the reader's mind and upending its contents over their face."

-- James L. Grant, author of PEDESTRIAN WOLVES and FLEM COMICS

Contents :

  • Introduction by Stewart O'Nan
  • Perfect
  • Role Models
  • The Pond
  • Reaching
  • Lies and Skin (co-written with Steve Eller)
  • Meat's Story
  • Dole as Ribbit
  • The Harlequin and the Train
  • Cold
  • The Stairs
  • With More Than Eyes
  • Perception
  • Annabel Leigh
  • Walls
  • 4'33
  • Hackin' at the Peach
  • So Many Things Left Out
  • The Laughing Man Meets Little Cat
  • The Jar
  • Colonel Evan's Last Mission


  • Cover Art, design by Simon Logan

    Artist: M. Lily Beacon

    Site designed by Stephanie Simpson-Woods


    COMPOSITIONS FOR THE YOUNG AND OLD is now available from Prime Books. Trade-paperback, 216 pages, $15.00 cover price, ISBN 1-930997-43-4. Buy it now at AMAZON.COM and BARNES AND NOBLES.COM. Or order direct from the publisher: Prime Books. Also available at the specialty bookstores Shocklines and Clarkesworld Books