It is suggested that the reader not attempt to read this book at one sitting. The emotional content of these stories, taken without break, may be extremely upsetting. This not is intended most sincerely, and not as hyperbole.
The first story was troubling enough to make me question whether or not I should have bought the book. Ellison lacks the restraint that most human beings come by instinctively. I suppose, when writing a book about all the gods people follow today (the gods of the freeway, the coaxial cable, the paingod, the god of neon, the rock god, the god of smog and even the god of Freudian guilt), you should expect trouble.
I tracked this volume down through AbeBooks.com after learning it was the inspiration behind Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Anansi Boys. The concept that a god is only alive insofar as he or she is worshiped is a fascinating idea to explore. Gaiman explored it with brilliance while Ellison used it as the lietmotif in this collection of short stories.
From a Christian perspective, Deathbird Stories invites some interesting thoughts about the nature of belief and modern forms of idolatry. These hallucinatory tales show idolatry for what it is—unfortunately, without offering any solution.
—Harlan Ellison, Deathbird Stories (New York: Bluejay Books, 1983).