Short story anthologies are often mixes of truly inspired, good, and mediocre stories, and this one is no exception. Among the better tales, I would c...moreShort story anthologies are often mixes of truly inspired, good, and mediocre stories, and this one is no exception. Among the better tales, I would count (excuse the pun): "The Black Opal Cross," "Cold Turkey," "Pas du Mort," and "A Temporary Vampire"--at least those are the ones I most enjoyed of the 13 (13, get it?) contained in this volume.
My experience of the collection titled Louisiana Vampires, is that while I wished to be, I was never really good and scared. In several instances, I came within spitting distance, but it never quite worked out for the same unfortunate and wholly avoidable reason. As a reader, I'm not sure whether the fault is fairly laid at the feet of the volume's compilers, Schimel and Greenberg, or its press (i.e., Fall River Press of New York), or both parties. Regardless, the biggest stumbling block to actually enjoying this collection of New Orleans-based vampire stories is the fact that the book is riddled with typographical errors. Seriously. You're being lured in to the atmosphere and unfolding events, and then there's not just a typo, but the text actually makes no sense as the wrong word appears--frequently multiple times on the same page.
I felt that the authors--who doubtless provided clean copies of their works--deserved far better from their compilers and the press producing the book. And the readers, regardless of whether they paid full price or purchased their hardback book on a bookseller's bargain table (and I may now understand why the latter came to be the case for my own purchase) deserve far better care. The mood was never achieved because the words--and frequently altogether the wrong words--got in the way and formed persistent stumbling blocks to the creation (let alone maintenance) of atmosphere. Not good under any circumstances, but truly a death knell when trying to create suspense. Instead, the lack of care/copy-editing just created mounting frustration on this reader's part.(less)
Short story anthologies can, by definition, be very hit-or-miss affairs. Taken as a whole, Teeth: Vampire Tales, definitely falls within the "mixed ba...moreShort story anthologies can, by definition, be very hit-or-miss affairs. Taken as a whole, Teeth: Vampire Tales, definitely falls within the "mixed bag" heading. That is, some of the stories are great, others are so-so, while a few were just plain not ready for publication.
Most troubling for me, of course, was the fact that Windling and Datlow's somewhat patronizing introduction to the work makes a couple of unfortunate assumptions: (1) first, that only 'tweens read Young Adult fiction and (2) that anyone likely to pick up their anthology has, at most, caught a few rerun episodes of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer on TV or read/viewed Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series. Seriously?! This work's introduction even goes so far as to claim that, "The extraordinary success of the Twilight series has placed a huge spotlight not only on modern vampire tales but on the urban fantasy genre as a whole--and that, in turn, is bringing new readers, and some terrific new writers, into the field" (pp. xxv-xxvi).
Instead of dividing YA vamp fiction into the pre- and post-Twilight periods, perhaps readers would benefit from some mention--and direction to them if these works/authors are not yet known to them--of Heather Brewer's Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampire series, P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast's House of Night series, Susan Hubbard's Ethical Vampire series, or Rachelle Meade's Vampire Academy books, as just a few notable examples. Such a glittering generalization regarding 21st-century vampire fiction seems to be suggesting that the genre has sprung full grown from the head (or pen) of Stephanie Meyer. And for those of us adult readers of YA fiction who were raised on such vampire fare as that provided by Nancy Collins, P.N. Elrod, Barbara Hambly, Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Tonya Huff, and Anne Rice, for instance, this abbreviated history and its overstated claim regarding the centrality of the Twilight series, seems a disservice to the very demographic it purports to be addressing.
Between the somewhat off-putting introduction and the mishmash of quality of entries in the volume, this anthology would by no means be a book I'd recommend to anyone trying to get an otherwise reluctant reader hooked. Any of the YA series I mentioned above would, I think, be more effective in that regard. (less)
Kitty's Greatest Hits, a collection of short stories by Carrie Vaughn, is very much a mixed bag. Some of the stories were great, whereas a few were ne...moreKitty's Greatest Hits, a collection of short stories by Carrie Vaughn, is very much a mixed bag. Some of the stories were great, whereas a few were near clunkers. Admittedly, the strongest in the bunch were those that involved Kitty Norville radio DJ and those that appeared to be stand-alones (esp. those involving Cormac Bennet) but then arced back into an overlap with the Kitty storyline. In my estimation, the one that fell the flattest was "Conquistador de la Noche." It was sheer cliche but may well have been an earlier writing exercise in Vaughn's portfolio. Regardless, this volume definitely made me want to read more of Vaughn's Kitty Norville (DJ who happens to be a werewolf) series.(less)
What a great mix of short stories--mixing everything from the 18th through 21st centuries as contexts for the tales. It's part of a series of noir ant...moreWhat a great mix of short stories--mixing everything from the 18th through 21st centuries as contexts for the tales. It's part of a series of noir anthologies set in assorted places, primarily throughout the U.S. but increasingly global in scope. Anyhow, back to Cape Cod Noir, the series focuses on the mix of cultures and classes that inhabit the Cape--both the summer trade and those who make their livings here year round. The stories are dark, as noir implies, but extremely well crafted. Ulin does a fine job with the arranging of stories and the pacing and, despite the darkness, the series does little to dissuade one from wanting to further explore Cape Cod. Many thanks to the 13 fine authors whose work is included, and to Ulin for arranging it all so well. (While I liked different ones for assorted different reasons--including the entry by my buddy Dana Cameron--I esp. enjoyed Paul Tremblay's "Nineteen Snapshots of Dennisport" for the sheer inventiveness of its format.) I will definitely explore other works in Akashic Books' series of noir anthologies and heartily encourage others to do the same. (less)
Like a magical little gift, I found this on the shelf last night while wandering around looking for something to read. (I'd somehow miraculously manag...moreLike a magical little gift, I found this on the shelf last night while wandering around looking for something to read. (I'd somehow miraculously managed to make it through the library stack before today's due date.) Got a couple of stories in before nodding off--these are wonderful and it was a hoot that lying next to me is Alan reading The Big Over Easy as the first one is a Raymond Chandleresque story investigating Humpty Dumpty's untimely demise. Ah, the classic Richard Thompson question, "Did he jump or was he pushed?" Once I got into subsequent stories, I realize that I've read this book before. Two stories, in particular, are familiar: "The Price" and "Sunird." I mst say that "The Price" is my all-time second-favorite short story--second only to Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery."
As an aside, for you cat people out there, run do not walk to your local independent bookstore or library to purchase this book and read "The Price." It will only reinforce why you love your cat, why your cat (even the indoor cats) hunt every night, and it will reinforce the love your cat has for you every time you look at a new cut, scratch, or a fresh kill left for you by your deaf, 18-year old cat. (We had Bandit the first time I read this book and it gave me a whole new appreciation for her dedication to us. Our current cat, Boo, has definitely gotten "the Memo" in terms of what she's to do for her people.)
Having revisited this book after having read The Graveyard Book made the short story, "The Witch's Headstone" all the more enjoyable. This is a wonderful collection of short stories, with a little something for everyone: classic hardboiled mystery, mildly sci-fi, fantasy/macabre, and just good old scary fun speculative fiction. I'm very happy to have revisited this book and thoroughly recommend it to short story fans, Gaiman fans, and fans of good writing.(less)
I am not generally a fan of short stories, but these were great. Some were a bit dark, but all were tightly written and extremely enjoyable. Keep writ...moreI am not generally a fan of short stories, but these were great. Some were a bit dark, but all were tightly written and extremely enjoyable. Keep writing, Margaret!(less)