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Richard’s darkly carnivalesque cosmos gets even bleaker in this collection of stories about charity-ward children, freak accidents, and misfits who tipple malt liquor cut with formaldehyde. Charity carries you along by dint of its absurdist humor and fleeting narratives, which read like brushfires of the imagination. Richard’s noirish hard guys verge on caricature in spots, and some of his cruelty is simply too hard to take. But most of the stories in this black little volume set the reader adrift somewhere between nightmare and opium dream. B+

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