I thought most of the artwork was beautiful, and I enjoyed the rhythm of text and artwork in the layout of the book.
Favorites/Stories I would read aga...moreI thought most of the artwork was beautiful, and I enjoyed the rhythm of text and artwork in the layout of the book.
Favorites/Stories I would read again: "Statement of Purpose" "The Man Who Married a Tree" "Terminal"
I found some of the stories extremely boring/pointless and was unable to get through a few of them because they just didn't hold my interest. Overall I disliked more stories than I liked in this collection, hence two stars.(less)
I think this is a beautiful little book full of fantastic illustrations. I was unimpressed by the accompanying story (stories?) by Rosa Liksom. The ti...moreI think this is a beautiful little book full of fantastic illustrations. I was unimpressed by the accompanying story (stories?) by Rosa Liksom. The title story "Monsters" made no sense to me, even when I read it as magical realism. I thought the writing was quite beautiful at times, but it seemed to flounder alongside the illustrations, like the author was attempting to "keep up" with Haapaniemi's art. I think the pairing of art + writing might have been more successful with short poems or perhaps a series of very short stories (such as the tiny story at the end, "Tampere").(less)
Roald Dahl, as you know, is awesome. I've read most of his books-for-kids, but only one collection of his short stories for adults (after reading this...moreRoald Dahl, as you know, is awesome. I've read most of his books-for-kids, but only one collection of his short stories for adults (after reading this book, I'll definitely be pursuing more of his books-for-adults). This Treasury has a wonderful mix of both types of work and includes poetry, short stories, excerpts from books, non-fiction, and recipes (I had totally forgotten about Revolting Recipes! And man, do those Hansel and Gretel Spare Ribs look GOOD). Everything is, of course, accompanied by beautiful illustrations, most of which are by Quentin Blake, some of which have been contributed by various other artists (including Ralph Steadman! How great is that?). This book collects a great selection of work by an amazing author...truly a beautiful Treasury that deserves to be on every child's (and adult's) bookshelf.(less)
First of all...how have I not read anything by Anaïs Nin until now? I fell in love almost immediately. Her writing is beautiful--insightful and seemin...moreFirst of all...how have I not read anything by Anaïs Nin until now? I fell in love almost immediately. Her writing is beautiful--insightful and seemingly effortless. When I picked this book up from the library I didn't realize that almost all the pieces by Nin are actually bits from talks, intros to books, and a few excerpts from her diaries. I thought it included more of her stories ("The White Blackbird" is actually the only story by Nin in this book, and it is quite short at only 2 pages). I wasn't disappointed--Nin's musings on literature and women are fascinating, and the taste of her fiction left me wanting more. Fortunately I picked up a compilation of her novels...so I'll be moving onto that next.
About 45 pages are reserved for Nin, while the other 78 or so are filled by Kanoko Okamoto's three short stories. I'd never read anything by Okamoto, either, but I loved her writing. The characters she writes about are so thoroughly invested in their emotional struggles, and those struggles (or, the expression/repression of them) is the main theme of her writing. I liked all three stories, but I think "Sushi" was my favorite. Something about the symbolic role of food and consumption has always intrigued me, so that story in particular made me think.
Overall a very nice little collection. Nin and Okamoto's writings go very well together, both in terms of style and content. I do wish there had been more of Nin's fiction presented here, but the short essays were nonetheless very interesting.(less)
I seem to generally have a "three-star" opinion of Neil Gaiman. I enjoy reading (some) of his writing, but I can't really say I "love" it. Some of the...moreI seem to generally have a "three-star" opinion of Neil Gaiman. I enjoy reading (some) of his writing, but I can't really say I "love" it. Some of the stories just seem like the same old thing over and over again, and he tends to describe things very similarly ("hatchet-faced" seems to be one of his favorite descriptions). I originally picked up this collection at the library because I wanted to read "The Problem of Susan", after finding the ending to the Chronicles of Narnia rather troubling. I really enjoyed that story and proceeded to read the rest of the stories and poems.
Most of them I've already forgotten (partly because it took me forever to get through this book) but a few stories have stuck with me. How long that will be the case, I can't say. But now, shortly after finishing this book, these are the stories that stuck out to me:
"The Problem of Susan" "Diseasemaker's Croup" "Other People" "Keepsakes and Treasures" "Goliath" (possibly my favorite story in the collection...mainly because it seemed almost like it could have been written by Philip K. Dick.) "Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Louisville, Kentucky" "Sunbird" "The Monarch of the Glen"
Many of the stories that I enjoyed were those that had a sort of circular, self-referential plot. It came up quite a bit but surprised me every time.
I'm going to try "American Gods" next...maybe one of Gaiman's novels can really "wow" me.(less)
I really enjoyed this book, but I feel somewhat torn about trying to give it a rating (I'd say 2.5 ish?). There's a decidedly male voice throughout th...moreI really enjoyed this book, but I feel somewhat torn about trying to give it a rating (I'd say 2.5 ish?). There's a decidedly male voice throughout the stories; I think I might go so far as to say that "maleness"/masculinity is a characteristic of nearly every story. Tsutsui's characters cannot be called heroes--so I can't just say that this book is full of pumped up male characters. That's not the case. It's quite the opposite, really...most of the characters are depraved, desperate, or transformed into automatons by their daily struggles. But while the men in these stories seem to "suffer" in existentially varied ways, I noticed that the women seemed...flat. They are angry housewives, faceless pregnant women, stuck-up rule followers. They are tyrannical. Their "suffering" is limited to the pain of having a husband who doesn't make enough money, or who doesn't have sex with them as often as they'd please. This characterization got old pretty fast, and I kept hoping for a female character (at least one!) with some depth, some intelligence, some sense of humanity (not just "woman-ness"). But that never happened.
Hands down my least favorite story was "The World is Tilting." It's about a feminist society, on an island, that begins to tilt into the sea due to some faulty engineering. Rather than evacuating the city the mayor decides it would be better not to tell anyone. The devout feminist followers of the mayor stick around, going so far as to shoot anyone who tries to leave. I don't want to spoil it (heh), but ultimately this story seemed to be a pretty harsh and strangely constructed jab at feminism. Although the society is described a number of times within the story as "feminist", I saw no indication of it, or the characters, exhibiting any feminist characteristics or values (broadly construed) whatsoever. Aside from having a female mayor, the society in this story seems pretty similar to the reality presented in Tsutsui's other stories. Needless to say, I was confused. Maybe it was a weird translation error, since the term "feminist" seems so arbitrarily inserted into the story; maybe I'm missing something, or maybe this completely non-representative depiction and criticism of feminism was totally intentional (in which case...I'm still confused).
Interestingly, "The World is Tilting" is far from the most ridiculous story in this collection (maybe that's part of why it fails). Most of the stories are surreal, gritty, and disturbing--my favorite kinds of stories. The title story (really more a novella), is pretty excellent. The very short story "Bravo Herr Mozart!" was also one of my favorites.
If you grit your teeth and try to ignore all the troubling, heartless housewives, then you'll find some dark, humorous, and bizarre stories in this collection. Or, if you think all women are evil, then you'll get a kick out of it too.(less)