Go read this, do! It's a fantastic collection of 89 weird and wonderful very short stories in 572 pages. Each story starts out strange and winds its w...moreGo read this, do! It's a fantastic collection of 89 weird and wonderful very short stories in 572 pages. Each story starts out strange and winds its way into even more experimental, experiential territory.
Also, do read Emshwiller's novels The Mount and Carmen Dog. Yes, do!
Not yet sufficiently enticed?
Here are some first lines of stories:
(Writers, read this for: first lines; examples of brief, engaging stories of the type published in numerous science fiction and literary magazines and journals and anthologies)
"It's Saturday," the absolutely hairless woman said, and she pulled at her frayed, green kerchief to make sure it covered her head." — "Day at the Beach"
"This the diary of lost sleep." — "The Queen of Sleep"
"The person you care about the most has just told you you're no good." — "Joy in Our Cause"
"In a dream I follow him to a cocktail party of his admirers." — "I Love You"
"We are advancing into an unknown land with a deliberate air of nonchalance, our elbows out, our hands on our hips, or standing one foot on a rock when there's an opportunity for it." — "Abominable"
"I am the woman of the year, or so it seems so far." — "Verging on the Pertinent"
"In the beginning there was a goddess from whom all things flawed flowed." — "If Not Forever, When?"
"We have always yearned for great men." — "The Promise of Undying Love"
"She is eighty-two and in love." — "There Is No Evil Angel But Love"
"Grandma used to be a woman of action. She wore tights. She had big boobs, but a teeny-weeny bra." — "Grandma"
Still, here? Goodness, dear, go read Emshwiller!
One issue, editing: This volume contains far too many obvious typographical errors. (less)
While the Kindle works nicely in many ways, sometimes reading short story collections on it can be annoying. You want to jump around from story to sto...moreWhile the Kindle works nicely in many ways, sometimes reading short story collections on it can be annoying. You want to jump around from story to story. You want to flip pages. You are looking for a short one to get rolling with or words that draw you in. Not all of the e-versions make this easy.
This wasn't a problem with Karen Joy Fowler's What I Didn't See: Stories, however, because every story begins with an enticement. All 12 stories flow and the reader moves rapidly into whichever story she approaches.
This collection contains two notable Nebula Award-Winning stories: "Always,"(2007) and "What I Didn’t See," (2003) and a Nebula nominee "The Dark" (1991).
The intense and creepy first story in the collection, "Pelican Bar," about an errant teenage girl sent away by her parents for discipline, leaves a lasting mark on the reader. It also impressed the judges of the Shirley Jackson Awards in 2009 and the World Fantasy Awards in 2010. (less)
Writers, read this for: Characterization. This story about two people with multiple personalities who experience them and cope with them in different...moreWriters, read this for: Characterization. This story about two people with multiple personalities who experience them and cope with them in different ways contains a large and complex cast of characters. Ruff shows these characters — as they emerge to inhabit a single body — by what they like to eat, the clothes they wear, what recreations they enjoy, their habits and gestures, how they talk, what causes them stress, how others respond to them, and their driving motivations.
Maybe every writer should try to write a story with a multiple personality as an exercise in creating and showing character.
At the same time, the warning, "Don't try this at home!" also applies. It takes experience and skill to pull off this many layers of character, plot and setting. Even the idea for the book sounds difficult and complicated to write. But Set This House in Order made for an easy, breezy, can't put it down read. Matt Ruff has serious chops! He also spent years on this project — from great idea to award-winning novel.
Pairs well with:Sybil, the 1973 non-fiction classic about the treatment of a woman with multiple personality disorder; Geoff Ryman's Air (Set This House in Order is a 2003 Tiptree Award Winner and Ruff was one of the Tiptree judges when Air in turn won the Tiptree in 2005); and The James Tiptree Award Anthology 1 (which contains an excerpt of Set This House in Order and the Geoff Ryman story "Birth Days").
Of note: Be sure to visit www.bymattruff.com for the deleted scenes from Set This House in Order and his notes on editing the novel.(less)
Influenced by utopian exploration, Calvino's Invisible Cities, offers an unusual creative approach, the traveler Marco Polo visits several cities and...moreInfluenced by utopian exploration, Calvino's Invisible Cities, offers an unusual creative approach, the traveler Marco Polo visits several cities and recounts his adventures to Kubali Khan.
In the end, "The Great Khan's atlas contains also the maps of the promised lands visited in thought but not yet discovered or founded: New Atlantis, Utopia, the City of the Sun, Oceana, Tamoe, New Harmony, New Lanark, Icaria." Khan also looks to explore "...the cities that menace in nightmares and maledictions: Enoch, Babylon, Yahooland, Butua, Brave New World."(less)