Attic Clowns, the latest playfully macabre collection from Jeremy C. Shipp, mixes horror, sci-fi, fantasy and slapstick with generous pinches of pathos, clowns, claustrophobia and attics to make one delicious literary pie. Some of these stories are allegories about the absurdity of work. In “The Quivering Gray Fog,” a woman living in an attic attempts to piece together an apparently impossible puzzle while a legion of demons make her home below into a living hell; in “Giggles,” another woman, Joan, is cursed to entertain a clown forever, lest he become bored, break free and wreak havoc on the world. Others address the absurdity of family life. In “Blister”—one of my favorites—a melancholic narrator, Corn, looks after his mentally ailing father, who does little but sit at the dinner table reading books about the afterlife (including one in which God is a T-Rex); in “Microcircus,” a woman struggles to manage miniature versions of both herself and those she loves. A palpable sense of impending entropy pervades the whole book, which is, paradoxically, rendered in Shipp’s characteristically precise, controlled prose—easy to read, not so easy to forget.