Loved this one. The other short story anthology of Baker's I've read so far was enjoyable but clearly a companion piece; this one rivaled the interest...moreLoved this one. The other short story anthology of Baker's I've read so far was enjoyable but clearly a companion piece; this one rivaled the interest and joy of reading the main series!(less)
As with many "best of "compilations, the stories that truly are stand-out remarkable I've already read from other collections. ;-) The ones "never bef...moreAs with many "best of "compilations, the stories that truly are stand-out remarkable I've already read from other collections. ;-) The ones "never before collected" are more of a mix. All good, of course—I've yet to run into a Kage Baker piece I haven't admired—but not necessarily "best".(less)
Read: "The Day Boy and the Night Girl" "The Light Princess" "The Giant's Heart"
Pausing midway through "The Shadows"; plan to finish after reading somethi...moreRead: "The Day Boy and the Night Girl" "The Light Princess" "The Giant's Heart"
Pausing midway through "The Shadows"; plan to finish after reading something of a different flavor for a while!
"Day Boy and Night Girl" is an absolute masterpiece. Even in the middle of "Light Princess", a more frivolous story, moments of incredible poetry and insight. Throughout all of them, snippets of ideas and syntax I've seen in other places—obviously directly lifted from and/or influenced by MacDonald, but he seems to have been so organically influential one wouldn't have identified it. (And I've rarely heard of him except in reading about the influences of other authors I already love, esp. Tolkien and Lewis.)(less)
11-18-11 : Three stories in a small volume I picked up in Edinburgh, "Exclusive edition for The Scotsman". Read "Tape-Measure Murder" in the UK, today...more11-18-11 : Three stories in a small volume I picked up in Edinburgh, "Exclusive edition for The Scotsman". Read "Tape-Measure Murder" in the UK, today read "The Case of the Perfect Maid" and "Miss Marple Tells a Story" in the bath - which is just perfect really.(less)
On the whole, my least favorite of the "Here There Be..." books, HOWEVER contains my favorite heaven/hell definition I've yet come across, in a lovely...moreOn the whole, my least favorite of the "Here There Be..." books, HOWEVER contains my favorite heaven/hell definition I've yet come across, in a lovely retelling of a pan-cultural fable.(less)
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ~ a reread. After being so saturated with all the adaptations it's inspired, was surprised at the parts an...moreThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ~ a reread. After being so saturated with all the adaptations it's inspired, was surprised at the parts and aspects I didn't remember at all, and how it's much more complex and morally ambiguous than has translated into mass consciousness. I do enjoy some of the adaptations, but the original in this case remains the most sophisticated and wonderful.
The Pavilion on the Links ~ finished May 25, '08. Engrossing and enjoyable read.
A Lodging for the Night ~ Jun 16. A bit stranger.
Markheim ~ Jul 3. Salvaged by the ending. (Finished on a plane from LAX to ORD.)
The Bottle Imp ~ Jul 31. Just loved it. The setting, imagery, the characters, their relationships, balance of description to action and knowing where to omit description, vivid depiction of a religiosity without conceit or judgment (or moralizing); a great short story in all respects, including being perfectly suited to its length.
The Sire de Malétroit's Door ~ Jul 31. Editors of the anthology say this of it: 'No word need be said, we are sure, about "The Sire de Malétroit's Door," except that if you have not read it, we envy you from the bottom of our hearts—for there is no joy that has to do with books quite like that of reading a wonderful short story for the first time.' (Preface.) My feelings are a bit more mixed. ;-) Definitely well-written, engaging, filled without conceit or overwroughtness with the fascinating ideas Stevenson simply writes in always; just ultimately left with a feeling of, "...Oy" at the outcome and how it relates to characters' actions and attitudes. Which is most probably a deliberate theme.
The Beach at Falesá ~ Aug 11. Complicated reactions, mostly negative, though think it's a case of the author exploring negatives via a character who doesn't find them negative.
The Suicide Club ~ Aug 26. That fascinating creature of the ideal sovereign crops up again; someone who can earn and command total love and loyalty from a two-minute casual conversation, both on a personal/social and a political level. My own usage of the word "fascinating" is tricky since in a way this ideal character jades me a tad against the story, but I suppose it's used well enough and evened out. The first part (of three) of the story is the only one in which he's the protagonist, rather than a flitting presence, and in that one we see his less idealized qualities which get him into the plot at all.
When I entered and rated each story individually, (not counting Jekyll and Hyde which I think of as a separate entity) none scored higher than The Bottle Imp with three stars. Taken in totality, even those stories I wasn't as fond of are elevated in fondness by connection with all the others.(less)
I grew up on this book, and colored in many of the superb illustrations with my own crayons. (They're not too much worse for wear.) I have definitely...moreI grew up on this book, and colored in many of the superb illustrations with my own crayons. (They're not too much worse for wear.) I have definitely continued to recommend it to people. However, after having studied the source material on the college level, I must always mention that the retellings in this book are subtly yet pervasively Christianized*. Incipient scholars may be hooked here but should be wary.
The introduction explaining how stories were chosen is excellent in itself, and both satisfying and liberating to Tolkien scholars. (Iliad, Odyssey, a...moreThe introduction explaining how stories were chosen is excellent in itself, and both satisfying and liberating to Tolkien scholars. (Iliad, Odyssey, and Beowulf are in the first sentence of the second paragraph.) "Liberating" because it does such a good job of expressing purpose of choice, Tolkienites are totally freed from continuing to mull it and so can simply read and enjoy the selected stories regardless of their degree of relation to LotR.
Stories themselves are magnificent. Favorites are probably "The Griffin and Minor Canon" (Frank R. Stockton), "Black Heart and White Heart: A Zulu Idyll" (H. Rider Haggard), "The Far Islands" (John Buchan), "The Coming of Terror" (Arthur Machen—and I must wonder if M. Night Shyamalan has read this story) and particularly "Chu-bu and Sheemish" (Lord Dunsany). Though there wasn't a single story I didn't enjoy reading, and I should also mention "The Golden Key" (George MacDonald), "The Thin Queen of Elfhame" (James Branch Cabell) and "A Christmas Play" (David Lindsay) for sticking very much in the mind and continuing to thought-evoke. ...And I've just named just about every story in the book, so there you have it.(less)
A Study in Emerald (pp1-25) ~ Its sole apparent weakness—the danger of any piece of tribute: impossibility o...moreBrief reactions to select favorite pieces:
A Study in Emerald (pp1-25) ~ Its sole apparent weakness—the danger of any piece of tribute: impossibility of capturing the precise style of the original—proves to be an absolute strength and to the benefit of the twist ending. Which indeed provides the greatest warmth to a Holmes' fan's heart.
The Problem of Susan (pp181-190) ~ The reason I picked up this book initially, and the first story I read: the only one out of sequence. Not what I'd expected. For some reason had expected something more academic, not visceral, not explicit (in the sense of being quite open about who the main character is, though also sexually). Perhaps the real reactance to Lewis is precisely that, the twisting of the icons to something quite out of sync with the Christian models. Found it inexplicably unsatisfying on initial read, but it stuck with me, and I was compelled to reread it and it continues to stick.
Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot (pp209-217) ~ I recently picked up a [completely unrelated:] book of "complete short stories of 55 words or less". I didn't read the whole thing because the few I scanned didn't do it for me. These fifteen disparate glimpses provided by Gaiman absolutely do it.
The Day the Saucers Came (pp271-272) ~ Anyone who doesn't think Gaiman has a sense of humor should check this poem out. It could be argued to either prove them wrong or right, I guess. I loved it.
The Monarch of the Glen (pp301-355) ~ Follow-up novella to American Gods. Probably wouldn't have liked it as much without having read American Gods and Keepsakes and Treasures (earlier this book pp113-131). Still, as Gaiman says, definitely nice to catch up with Shadow. Also, maintains the atmosphere and delicious elusiveness* of AG (*of anything too definitive?), nice playing with myth but in a way befittingly independent of AG. And having my one itch unsatisfied by AG being solid answers to my internal questions about Shadow, this story deals with them right up front without undo fuss or strain.
There are other pieces I enjoyed quite a lot, and there was nothing in here I wish I'd skipped.(less)