Wonderful atmospheric setups, interesting characters, promising stories. They all lack the tightness necessary to short form horror, however. There'sWonderful atmospheric setups, interesting characters, promising stories. They all lack the tightness necessary to short form horror, however. There's some great writing ahead from this writer, I suspect....more
Brilliant characterizations that will stick with you for a long time. O'Brien's writing style works very well for the audiobook format, he (or his altBrilliant characterizations that will stick with you for a long time. O'Brien's writing style works very well for the audiobook format, he (or his alter ego narrator) is a natural story teller. There is not a bad story in this book, although some are definitely darker than the others, but the two that really stood out in my mind were "The Things They Carried" and "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong". If you've read Matterhorn and liked it, you'll like these short stories just as much....more
A very good set of short stories with a terribly incorrect description here on Goodreads. The idea of "romantic love" enters into a couple of the storA very good set of short stories with a terribly incorrect description here on Goodreads. The idea of "romantic love" enters into a couple of the stories, but for the most part these stories are about attachments and attractions and the holes that people try to fill with other people's lives. There's a single line in the story "You're So Different Now" that pretty much sums up the subject of all the stories: ".....knowing there are countless ways to be a part of someone else's life...", and with relationships based on lust ("Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry", a need to escape ("Portraits Fully Developed"), and adventure gone sadly wrong "Quality of Life"), this book covers a lot more than romantic love. A few of the stories lack intensity ("Alex Cross, Inc." especially), but the character development is so strong in all of them that you'll be left wondering what happened next, and what's a short story without that sense of hit-and-run? ...more
The first piece, 1922, is nice piece of Rural Gothic, something I don't think I've read from King before. Of course there's some supernatural goings oThe first piece, 1922, is nice piece of Rural Gothic, something I don't think I've read from King before. Of course there's some supernatural goings on on, used for what reads more like easy story telling than good story telling, but it's far and away the best story in the book. Big Driver and A Good Marriage use exhaustive amounts of internal dialogs, so much in the former that I really began to dislike the main character. Fair Extension is short and to the point (yes, really, Stephen King! Wonder of wonders!), but lacks the kind of staying power that, in the Afterword King says is his goal. Speaking of the Afterword, that;s really the best part of the book. King excels at writing about writing, and there's a line of advice there about writing dark fiction that every writer should have on their wall:
"... if you're going into a very dark place..... then you should take a bright light, and shine it on everything. If you don't want to see it, why in God's name would you dare the dark at all?"
This collection is all over the place in content and quality. It's a posthumous publication, so it's quite likely that Ms. Jackson herself would haveThis collection is all over the place in content and quality. It's a posthumous publication, so it's quite likely that Ms. Jackson herself would have been unimpressed with some of these stories. Certainly, they all show her natural talent as a writer, but the stories written in college and in some cases, the ones written to fill an order from magazines are flat and unpolished. Others read like second drafts of what could have become something amazing. If you're looking for works like "The Lottery", there are a few stories that tip in that direction, especially The Nightmare and The Story We Used To Tell. There are stories that show a lesser known side of Jackson's writing, her twists on the every day life of the women of her time.
Honestly, the majority of these stories didn't merit publication. I'd only recommend this book to someone interested in reading the discards and a few hidden gems of a very talented writer....more
A really good collection of stories set in the part of Louisiana that isn't New Orleans. All but one of the stories are tied in some way to the work tA really good collection of stories set in the part of Louisiana that isn't New Orleans. All but one of the stories are tied in some way to the work that the characters do or don't do for a living. They are unremarkable people who end up in remarkable situations, or at least enjoy talking about other people who've had remarkable things happen to them. Gautreaux immerses the reader in his setting is such a way that proves that he's mastered the "show, don't tell" rule of writing. The characters of these stories have been busy living day bay day, they don't have time to sit back and see beauty and danger of where they live. It's just life to them....more
The important thing to keep in mind when reading this collection is that the subtitle is "Great Stories of Revenge", not Stories of Great Revenge. AsThe important thing to keep in mind when reading this collection is that the subtitle is "Great Stories of Revenge", not Stories of Great Revenge. As Manguel points out in his introduction, ...."there are many different types of revenge...", and it soon becomes apparent that what one culture calls revenge, I might call justice. A few of the stories go to the darker extremes, such as Henrik Von Kleist's "The Foundling" (so over the top, you'll think it was written by Alexadre Dumas); and August Derketh's "Miss Epperson" where the crime goes on and on but the retribution is swift. All of the writing is good (even the Faulkner story that I had to force myself to read), and this is a great way to get a taste of the darker side of some of the world's better and lesser known authors....more
Eleven of the stories in this collection deal with some sort of time travel. The twelfth story is the painfully correct for its time period story abouEleven of the stories in this collection deal with some sort of time travel. The twelfth story is the painfully correct for its time period story about magic props that, thankfully, is easy to forget. Finney's ideas about time travel are rare in science fiction, but common in the mind of most people's imagination. It's the "if you could live any time in history, when would it be?" and people almost always want to go back to what they thought were simpler times. If someone imagines an alternate universe to live in, of course you'd want it to be a better universe. There are no worries about butterfly effects in Finney's stories, there's no mention of time/space continuum that must never, ever be disrupted for whatever reason. These are stories where going back to a simpler timer (or in one story, staying around a little longer in present time) will lead to good things. These stories are cozy sci-fi, a very tiny but enjoyable genre.
My favorites from this collection: "I Love Galesburg in the Springtime", a story that will go right to the heart of the type of person who'd rather drive on a state highway than an interstate; and "Such Interesting Neighbors" - the closest to pure sci-fi that these stories come, and yet it's still light and fun....more
(Disclosure: This book was received free via the First-Reads program, with the understanding that I might read and review it.)
Not only "the collected(Disclosure: This book was received free via the First-Reads program, with the understanding that I might read and review it.)
Not only "the collected stories", these are the complete stories of Deborah Eisenberg - four books in one very massive tome. This is a book to pick up and put down, read a story or two, go onto something lighter or maybe less introspective, and then come back to it when you have a hungering for a short visit to a deep place. I say deep, because no matter how much humor Eisenberg grants a character or a subject on the surface, you will be drawn down into stories that are so much more than their plots. There's a sort of progression through the four collections, starting with characters trying to define themselves by the people that surround them, then by the places they visit, until finally the stories that take familiar situations and challenge us to see them through the eyes of characters that we probably wouldn't run across every day in the real world.
There's a lot Virginia Woolf in Eisenberg's style, except that Eisenberg seems to like and sometimes even enjoy her characters. That makes reading even her darker and her most abstract stories for more enjoyable....more
An alternate title for this book could be "The Funeral in the Basement" or something along those lines, because at the heart of every one of these stoAn alternate title for this book could be "The Funeral in the Basement" or something along those lines, because at the heart of every one of these stories is death and saying goodbye. In my mind, that makes for good reading, especially when the stories are told by an author as unsympathetic to his characters as Robert Penn Warren is. By far, my favorite new-to-me story of this book was "The Patented Gate and The Mean Hamburger", probably the closest Warren ever got to writing humor, but of course, it's dark humor. "A Christian Education" I've read before in several short story anthologies, and it is a story that holds up to being read over and over again. Many of these stories focus on tobacco farmers, set in a time when tobacco growing was an honorable and honest way to make a living. It's become politically incorrect to remember that time, making this collection of stories historically important as well as great reading. My only negative goes along with the almost always true bit of writer's advice: never write in dialect. As great as a writer as Warren is, his attempt to use dialog to create setting is jarring, and when that happens in the first story of a collection, it jumps out in every other story that follows....more