Gregory Frost is known for his lyrical prose and the strange complexity of his settings, both of which are showcased to their best advantage in this eclectic story collection entitled Attack of the Jazz Giants and Other Stories. In addition, many of the stories reflect the common theme of Frost's sense of injustice in the world. In the title story, vengeance is visited upon an iron-fisted Southern patriarch and Ku Klux Klan member in the form of giant musical instruments that literally crush the oppressors. In some of the tales, however, wrongdoing goes tragically unpunished; in “Madonna of the Maquiladora,” for instance, factory managers in Mexico get away with using technology to convince underpaid workers that the Virgin Mary is personally watching over them.
Other stories utilize minor yet intriguing questions from history as a starting point. “From Hell Again” addresses strange evidence from the actual crime scene of Jack the Ripper's final murder, while “In the Sunken Museum” supplies a fanciful explanation as to what may have happened during Edgar Allan Poe's unknown final days. While Frost's fiction may feel frustratingly vague to some readers, in that clear explanations are often withheld, the author's strength clearly lies in his satisfying ability to inhabit settings with precise detail and evocative description that employs all five senses.
The collection is further enhanced with ink illustrations by Jason Van Hollander, a foreword by Karen Joy Fowler, and an afterword by John Kessel, as well as author notes explaining the origin of each story. Overall, Attack of the Jazz Giants offers a valuable retrospective of Frost's highly acclaimed short fiction.