I read this book very quickly. Much more quickly than it deserved to be read. It's not due back to the library for another week or so, so I'm going to...more I read this book very quickly. Much more quickly than it deserved to be read. It's not due back to the library for another week or so, so I'm going to read it again. Slowly.
I devoured this book. I didn't know how much I wanted to read it until I finished it. It was exactly like having some sort of vitamin deficiency before I picked up this book. I had story anemia. Or something.
And here's a hard thing: I don't have anyone to whom I can recommend this book. I can think of many people who would like several parts of this book, but none of them are the same parts. Or the same people.
This collection of short stories, if one had to slap a label on them, is technically magical realism, but could also be classified as urban fantasy in places. Sort of. Or horror. Or absurdism. It's another one of those books I love the best: beautiful and weird. All these stories are beautiful. And all of them are very, very weird. The writing and style and subjects are all a bit like a cross between "China Mieville", "Neil Gaiman", and "Jonathan Safran Foer", if you can imagine such a thing. The whole book feels slightly foreign. It reads like it was very recently translated from a language that only exists in narrow places.
Highly recommended. If you're into this sort of thing. (less)
A collection of short stories all revolving around the explosion of an alien bomb that spereads a disease to all the folks unluck enough to be exposed...moreA collection of short stories all revolving around the explosion of an alien bomb that spereads a disease to all the folks unluck enough to be exposed to it. it has a proper-sounding pseudo-Latin name, but it ends up being called the Wild Card virus. Out of 100 people infected, 90 die imeadeately (they "draw a black queen"), nine develop strange, horrible, or totally unuseful mutations like fur all over the body, extra limbs, or rapid aging (they "draw a joker") and one out of every hudred fols "draws an ace," or, basically, becomes a super hero.
So far so good.
All of these stories are written by different authors, and so all of them have a different feel. Some are tragic, some are pulpy adventure, some verging on horror. what they all managed to do, though, was keep to the agreed reality. It felt like glimpses into a real place and time. I liked that cohesion.
Recommended. If you're into this sort of thing.(less)
This gets four stars because some of these stories not only meet all the hype that surrounded the release of this book, but exceeded it. and then some...moreThis gets four stars because some of these stories not only meet all the hype that surrounded the release of this book, but exceeded it. and then some were really tiresome dreck. it all equaled-out to four-stars.
This is a pretty good collection. I love short stories and I love a well-written phrase. Wells Tower can write a really damnned good sentence, I will give him that. Sumptuous, even.
This seems a very masculine book in many ways. It's hard really to articulate why and in what way, though. It isn't that all the stories are about men, that's not it. It's a sort of feeling to it. I realize it's a terrible thing to make a statement and be unable to back it up with anything tangible, but that's what this book gave me: a lot of sensations and impressions rather than solid ideas.
In places, the fanciful bleakness reminds me a bit of David Foster Wallace. Sometimes due to content or concept, but other times just because both Wells tower and the late Mr Wallace can really throw a sentence together.
I don't know. I wish I could be less vague. Good book. My favorite story either "The Brown Coast" or "Down in the Valley," and my least favorite was "Retreat." What else can I say? Recommended if you either like good writing from a technical or academic standpoint, or if you are into the lives of the broken and sad hordes told from an almost zen perspective.(less)
Another collection of short stories from Charles de Lint set in the fictional Candian city if Newford, where aboriginal spirits mingle with fairies an...moreAnother collection of short stories from Charles de Lint set in the fictional Candian city if Newford, where aboriginal spirits mingle with fairies and street musicians in a lovely urban-fantasy soup.
While I prefer the Newford books that feature Tamsin House to some of the more random collections, this book is reall not bad at all. Mostly, I think, it's from being one of the first ones before de Lint became obviously obsessed with one of the biggest MarySues in the history of modern fiction: Jilly Coppercorn. Oy. Deliver me. Seriously. Also, De Lint seems to have a fixation on the idea that being homeless is somehow noble. But other than that I have no real complaints with any of his books. and, as I said, this one less than others for being older.
But that's neitgher here nor there. Good short stories full of magical-reality/fairy-tale/native-lore crossovers. I reccomend these books, an this one in particular, for the writing, the sotries, the character, and the concepts.
If you're into that sort of thing, of course.(less)
I read this book because my beloved left it in the bathroom. Not that I have anything against the Star Wars franchise per sey, I just would not have c...moreI read this book because my beloved left it in the bathroom. Not that I have anything against the Star Wars franchise per sey, I just would not have chosen to read it of my own volition, so to speak. I'm ambivalent.
A mixed bag, quality-wise. Some stories are good, some awful, some so tightly focused that only a Star Wars super-fan would know what the hell is going on.
I'd recommend it if you're into the franchise. Don't bother otherwise.(less)
While I put this on my "short story" shelf, the truth is that this book is two novellas and not a collection of short stories. Tomato/tomaaahto.
The fi...moreWhile I put this on my "short story" shelf, the truth is that this book is two novellas and not a collection of short stories. Tomato/tomaaahto.
The first story is alright. It's the "horror" part. A swords-and-sorcery story about vampires. Well, ONE vampire; and the harper who may or may-not be bewitched by her. It's not bad. It's too short and ends abruptly with a great many lose ends. I wasn't overly keen on it. Oh, it was well written and erie, like most of Tannith Lees's stories, but I was left with a feeling of ....*shrug*
The second story, the "humor" part, is a really funny send-up of most fantasy novels. A prince with no memory of who he is and a very wide cowardly streak, awakes to find himself on a talking horse who denys being able to talk but admits to sometimes being a lion. When it feels like it. Very funny stuff. The real reason I gave this book three stars: The first story is a two-star tale, and this second one is a four-star tale... so it equaled-out.
The short story is my favorite art-form (today, anyway) and this book has a few gems. My favo...moreA very nice collection of short stories by Connie Willis.
The short story is my favorite art-form (today, anyway) and this book has a few gems. My favorite is in the later half of the collection and set in London during the blitz, where a man shows an extraordinary skill for finding people buried under ruble.
These are not fantasy or sci-fi stories per-sey, but they are all other-worldly. Odd. I like that sort of thing.
An occasionally self-indulgent series of short stories, essays, and transcripts of speeches, this book is cute and cuddly in a way that only Spider se...moreAn occasionally self-indulgent series of short stories, essays, and transcripts of speeches, this book is cute and cuddly in a way that only Spider seems capable of. It's also angry, chiding, and sad. But always hopeful. I especially recommend the speech he gave on reading in America (or possibly on the dumbining of America, depending on how you look at it.)
I think I like this book as well or better than any new thing I've read in the last three or four years. I'm a huge fan of short stories to begin with...moreI think I like this book as well or better than any new thing I've read in the last three or four years. I'm a huge fan of short stories to begin with. I think it's an art form that too many people attempt and not enough of them are able to perfect. Or anything anywhere close to "perfect." O Henry, Mark Twain, Neil Gaiman, and Stephen King are just a few examples of the handful of authors in the history of literature that seem to be able to knock the Short Story right out of the park. And, as good (and I mean really, really good) as the short works written by those authors are, the Short Story is still a rare animal. So you can understand why I want to find and kiss Joe Hill right on his furry chin for writing this book.
The stories are delicious. The first one made me uncomfortable in ways I haven't felt since I read The Bogeyman when I was twelve, and yet was so well done I had to keep reading it. The second and third stories were so sweet and sad that I actually teared-up. The forth one was a very dark and weirdly funny (to me, at any rate) homage to Kafka and the monster movies of the 1950s. And on. And on.
I highly recommend this book. Not everything in this thing is made of gold, though. Don't mistake me. But what is wrong with this set of stories is outweighed by what is right. Go read this book. (less)
The first time I logged in this book way back when I opened my Goodreads account and was just throwing everything I could remember ever picking up to...moreThe first time I logged in this book way back when I opened my Goodreads account and was just throwing everything I could remember ever picking up to read at the Goodreads wall in an attempt to not leave anything out. At that time I didn't write a review of this book. Not for any particular reason; I didn't write reviews for most of the books I have in my library. A couple for some I really loathed, one or two for some I liked, a couple for some that I (for one reason or another) felt the need to justify. That's it.
But now that DFW is dead ... no, well, shit: that's tacky. I mean, he is and that's awful and everything but that shouldn't be why I'm writing the review. It's the reason I re-read the book today and it's the reason I replaced my missing original copy at the bookstore last night, but it shouldn't be one of those band-wagon-y "oh I loved Infinate Jest he was like a god to me why did it happen how awful" sort of reviews. Because, while I liked Infinite Jest, I never thought he was a god, and I think I know exactly how "this" happened. But I don't want this review to be anything even approaching the band wagon. Like I said. I want it to be about Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.
The book is okay. Not fantastic. Not awful. I have to say, if I'm being honest, that the Mister Wallace (at least in the example of this specific book) didn't write actual stories. I don't know that he would have been able to if he tried. Or was forced at gunpoint. What he made was more like word paintings. Unconnected and layered and taxing and lovely. Sometimes lovely in their ugliness. From a technical standpoint, he could craft a sentence better than almost anyone alive today.
Sorry, that was crass. But I'm not deleting that sentence because it's true.
He did things (literarily speaking) that you are never, ever supposed to do. Like (in this specific book, at any rate) tell most of the narrative in footnotes, or make an entire section in out line form shorthand, or have interview transcripts where all the questions are removed. Everyone called it "postmodernism" and talked about how funny he was and how clever and new. I don't think the things he wrote in this book were, bar maybe one of the pieces, funny even in the slightest. The funny part, the truly and totally funny thing about DFW was that a lot of the things he wrote were so full of despair and bleak, unblinking irony that it felt, to me, that he was laughing at us, not with us. And THERE is where I found The Funny.
There's some beautiful craftsmanship in this book. The turn of phrase here or there is tap-dead-perfect. I wish I wrote like this some days. It makes me wish that I wrote period.
But I hated most of the content. Which is why I gave this book three stars. What it delivered (in my opinion) was shit; HOW it delivered it, however, was pure gold.