Diving Mimes, Weeping Czars and Other Unsusual Suspects by Ken Scholes

A mysterious voice, an alien songstress, a postapocalyptic Santa Claus, and a host of other bizarre creatures come together in Scholes’s lively, arresting and gleefully offbeat second short story collection (after 2009’s Long Walks, Last Flights), which equally startles with profound emotion and revels in absurd humor. In the brilliant “A Weeping Czar Beholds the Fallen Moon,” a tearful ruler encounters a strange object and a young woman that bring both doom and renewal. “Invisible Empire of Ascending Light” concerns a violent contest to take the place of a dying god. “Four Clowns of the Apocalypse and the Mecca of Mirth” is a wide-eyed, bizarro-style caper involving the misadventures of four clowns in a wasted, radioactive America. By turns baroque, off-kilter, and haunting, Scholes’s writing will delight lovers of the unusual and wildly imaginative. — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review