I picked this up for the Sookie Stackhouse story, but I always feel compelled to read the whole book once I have an anthology in my hands. As it turne...moreI picked this up for the Sookie Stackhouse story, but I always feel compelled to read the whole book once I have an anthology in my hands. As it turned out, the Charlaine Harris story was the only story in this anthology without at least one sex scene. Most had two or three. Now, I'm not opposed to a bit of hot vampire action, but this was too much for me. Add to that the blatant editing errors in the last two stories ("...he wrapped lightly on the ceiling"? Really?!), and I'm thinking the two stars is generous.
For Sookie Stackhouse fans, however, Harris' story "One Word Answer" answers a lot of questions. It also allays that strange feeling of having missed a book with all the backstory at the beginning of book 6 in the series. Apparently, all that missing action happened right here.(less)
This book might have been better been titled "Best American Crime Fiction" because none of the stories in it were traditional mysteries.
In all honest...moreThis book might have been better been titled "Best American Crime Fiction" because none of the stories in it were traditional mysteries.
In all honesty, I found it a bit of a slog, but gave it three stars anyway for some stand-out stories.
Robert Ferrigno's "The Hour When the Ship Comes In" from Los Angeles Noir was spot-on with the hard-boiled voice updated for modern times. I quite enjoyed Peter LaSalle's "Tunis and Time" from The Antioch Review right up until the last page when he suddenly felt compelled to summarize his backstory in one giant infodump. Alice Munro's "Child's Play" (Harper's Magazine) was beautiful, if not at all a mystery. Hugh Sheey's "The Invisibles" (Kenyon Review) was vivid, surreal, and mysterious.
Rupert Holmes' "The Monks of Abbey Victoria" )Dead Man's Hand wins the prize for being my surprise favorite--a story with a twist built in such a way that the ending was delightful rather than irritating.
Actually, flipping through this again, there were quite a few really compelling stories. It's just that most of them weren't what I wanted out of a book called Best American Mystery Stories.(less)
It was fun returning to the world of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell more than a year after I read that book. A few of the stories in this collecti...moreIt was fun returning to the world of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell more than a year after I read that book. A few of the stories in this collection are every bit as magical as that book, especially "Tim Brightwind," about a fairy building a town bridge, and "The Ladies of Grace Adieu," where Jonathan Strange, himself, makes an appearance.
I only gave this three stars because I found several of the stories weaker, especially the ones where Clarke reaches outside her familiar setting. Specifically, "The Duke of Wellington Misplaces his Horse," set in the town of Wall from Neil Gaiman's Stardust, "On Lickerish Hill," a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, and "Antickes and Frets," featuring Mary, Queen of Scots.
Generally speaking, the longer the story, the better. There was a reason Clarke needed so many pages in her first novel. She's definitely at her best when she has some room to breathe.(less)
The stories in this book appeared to have been chosen more for their ethnic diversity than any other virtue. That's not to say that they aren't well-w...moreThe stories in this book appeared to have been chosen more for their ethnic diversity than any other virtue. That's not to say that they aren't well-written stories, but I'm sure there are more compelling stories coming out of US writing programs. If the purpose was to create a tapestry of American voices, the book succeeded, but I was hoping for more great writing and fewer meandering literary stories where nothing much happens.
I did enjoy "The Freddies," by M.O. Walsh, the story of a family's black sheep returning for his grandfather's funeral. Caimeen Garrett's "The Temperate Family" was also compelling in its epistolatory format, anchored with the haunting image of a family commemorated in wax. And finally, Kevin A. Gonzalez' "The Wake" was a subtle look at men and mourning that caught me just at the right point in my life to appreciate it.