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McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales (McSweeney's #10)

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  2,643 ratings  ·  184 reviews
Jim Shepard’s "Tedford and the Megalodon"

Glen David Gold’s "The Tears of Squonk, and What Happened Thereafter"

Dan Chaon’s "The Bees"

Kelly Link’s "Catskin"

Elmore Leonard’s "How Carlos Webster Changed His Name to Carl and Became a Famous Oklahoma Lawman"

Carol Emshwiller’s "The General"

Neil Gaiman’s "Closing Time"

Nick Hornby’s "Otherwise Pandemonium"

Stephen King’s "T
Paperback, 497 pages
Published February 2003 by Vintage Books (first published January 1st 2003)
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3.55  · 
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 ·  2,643 ratings  ·  184 reviews

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Sam Quixote
Sep 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
Like the cover and the way the stories are presented, the title "Thrilling Tales" is an ironic smirk at the content. Big name writers try to write genre pulp fiction from the '30s and '40s and the results are dire.

Jim Shepard opens with a story called "Tedford and the Megalodon", a snoozer about a guy who goes looking for a prehistoric fish (I think anyway, I was so bored I drifted in and out) and ultimately finds it only to have it swim away. Yup, that's the opening salvo that's supposed to ha
Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: fans of genre fiction, sci-fi nerds, hard-boiled private eyes, nerdy hipsters
Shelves: read-in-2008
do you like genre fiction? then read this book. tragically, i dislike genre fiction. i'm sure this is a great anthology for people who do like genre fiction. by which i mean, westerns, mysteries, fantasy, old-school pulp novels, & items that can be found in the gold room at powell's in portland, oregon. when i was in college, one of my several majors was popular culture, with an emphasis on the inter-relationship of cinema & literature. which seems weird to me now that i never watch movi ...more
Mattia Ravasi
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
#16 in my Top 20 Books I Read in 2015:

An all-star team of super dope writers comes together to try and bring back from the dead that slender beast that is the American Genre Short Story.
Some people in here did not really get what they were supposed to be writing, some were clearly unable to stop being all intellectualish and just put a plot in what they wrote, but most wrote stuff that's purely brilliant. Also because, well - Chabon, Leonard, King, Moorco
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii
I wanted to read this collection for the exposure to a number of authors who have intrigued me for a while (namely Rick Moody, Sherman Alexie, Dave Eggers, Elmore Leonard, Nick Hornby and Neil Gaiman). Frequently, though, I got the sense from these stories that these novelists were outside their element, struggling against the short story format. Mainly because the stories they wrote were written nicely with interesting characters, but often I felt the conclusions were rushed and/or unfulfilling ...more
Apr 13, 2008 rated it liked it
A good collection of ripping yarns, despite any (staggering) misgivings you may have about the imprint. I especially enjoyed “The Nazi Canary” by Michael Moorcock (alt-30’s Conan-Doyle-style whodunnit concerning the suspicious death of Hitler’s niece); “Ghost Dance,” a cowboys-and-Indians ghost story by Sherman Alexie; plus a Depression-era gangster shoot-em-up by Elmore Leonard, a couple of good time-travel stories by Nick Hornby and Chris Offutt, and an in-search-of-prehistoric-sharks science- ...more
Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Meehhh...some of the stories were fantastic, but in general they were just okay.
Ross McLean
If you judge this book by it's cover, you would probably be exactly correct: It's a collection of fun kitschy pulp from the cool kids of modern fiction. Each story opens with a charming illustration fit for the cheapest newsprint and an accompanying tagline such as "He went in search of a relic of earth's past, and came face-to-face with the mortal specter of his own." Although they don't all end in exclamations points, which I personally consider to be a mistake.

The quality is generally pretty
As with most short story collection, this has a few good stories, some not so good and a lot of average. Still worth a read if you enjoy short stories, I personally have to be in the right mood. Which is why it has taken me over a year to finish...

I do like the way it has been presented in the book with an old "newspaper look" (ads and everything), as well as the cover.
Sep 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of the unanswered questions of modern culture is the reason for the decline of the short story form. As people complain about lacking the time to read it would seem that the short stories should prove the ideal solution; busy readers can read a story from a collection and then walk away until they next have a chance to read. Yet despite this short stories receive less and less of a readership, precipitously falling from the great popularity they enjoyed a few decades ago when readers could c ...more
Dec 12, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: short-stories
Perhaps it’s my recent immersion in the world of SF, but this treasury was less thrilling for me than advertised. It’s a good thing I didn’t read Michael Chabon’s intro before beginning the stories; otherwise I never would have continued. In it he complains about a particular type of literary story being all that literary venues have to offer. To which I say, perhaps you should read more widely. “Thrilling” tales are being published in all sorts of places. Perhaps not in McSweeney’s, to their st ...more
Apr 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
There's nothing better than an anthology of great short stories. What I love best is that this anthology doesn't succumb to the two most common pitfalls usually encountered in short story collections: 1) if the collection is done by just one author, then there tends to be more than a couple of duds in the collection; and 2) it doesn't fall prey to the literary pretentiousness so common in current fiction.

I had a fiction prof who argued that genre fiction could in no way be considered "literary
Nov 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Deliciously evil.

There were some short stories here that were superb and some I could have skipped. The Albertine Notes started out sort of interesting and developed into an incredibly powerful shocking story that will haunt me forever. The major writers I've heard of didn't write the best stories, although Steven King's tale was better than most of his books. It was an odd collection tied together only because they had 'surprise' endings - like elaborate jokes. The idea was to have them be plot
John Pringle
Sep 26, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a very likeable collection with some very good stories. “The Tears of Squonk, and What Happened Thereafter” by Glen David Gold is maybe the pick of the collection. I wish Gold would write more short stories. In the time it took him to write Sunnyside, he could have written 20 more stories like this one.
Grant Cousineau
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Very rarely does a short story collection look like a must read: "Michael Chabon recruits the biggest names in literature to recreate the exciting, pulpy, plot-based short stories they grew up on, recreating the lore and mystery of yesteryear." I mean, with names like Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, and Elmore Leonard, who wouldn't want to at least pick it up?

Problem is, this isn't any of their best work. For many, it's outside their wheelhouse, and it shows. If they're
Oct 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
This collection was preceded with an explanation/lament on the dying genre/pulp short story. I gathered that short stories are hard, pulp has little in the way of plot (I'm not sure I've ever read a true pulp story, as this was a phenomenon that occurred before I could read), and started in. Pulp was dying. Whatever. I was just pumped that I'd found a "collection" book on the shelf of the man who would later become my boyfriend (didn't want to start something longer as the "book at his place" in ...more
Tim Ganotis
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Some hits, some misses, as any compilation is likely to be. One story in particular was not only overly long (the definition of "short story" varies widely in this book) but just self-indulgent, drawn-out, and unreadable. Another story was oddly filled with dropped names of the other authors in the book, and the story read as a homework assignment hurriedly finished the morning it was due.

While most stories in the collection were engaging and well written (with a variety of styles and subjects)
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I took my time and enjoyed this collection throughout the year. Some of the stories worked better than others despite an incredible lineup of authors. My favorites should come as no surprise ("Ghost Story" by Sherman Alexie, "Up the Mountain..." by Dave Eggers, "Closing Time," Neil Gaiman, "How Carlos Webster ..." by Elmore Leonard). Only two really missed the mark for me: "Albertine Notes" by Rick Moody and Michael Moorcock’s "The Case of the Nazi Canary" (the only one I didn't read entirely). ...more
Roman Milner
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's worth the price of this book just to get Rick Moody's story "The Albertine Notes."

It's one of my favorite short stories of all times. It's one of those stories that leaves itself rolling around in your head for a long time as you try to put the pieces together.

The Stephen King and Elmore Leonard stories were also great. Chabon and and Dave Egger's stories didn't work for me.

Nick Hornby's story was also very fun.
Aug 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Good collection with lots of amazing authors! "Closing Time" by Neil Gaiman is pretty creepy, and I very much enjoyed "How Carlos Webster Changed His Name To Carl And Became A Famous Oklahoma Lawman" by Elmore Leonard, even if the title is too long! Stephen King's "The Tale of Gray Dick" was cool to read as it reappears later as part of his Dark Tower series, plus I love the throwing plates action! Nice group of stories here!
Rob Summers
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Chabon's brief attempt to adapt his unmade screenplay into a book was only this short story. A first chapter basically in McSweeny's collection of sci fi short stories by big authors. Its an alternate history of steam punk civil war era that eventually would lead to John Carter/Avatar type adventure on Mars. This however is just the opening story of young two brothers as their parents attempt to escape the US after a failed revolt against the British who never lost the colonies. It's just okay. ...more
May 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Not the best anthology I've read but there are some interesting gems. I picked this up for Michael Crichton's short story but sampled the others as well. So many of my favorite authors are in here. Unfortunately many of these stories have been republished elsewhere or are just plain forgettable.
Breana Bauman
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: paused
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My favorite stories were the one about the Nazis and the memory drug Albertine (even though I still have so many questions about it!)
Michael D. Kanner
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful collection of short stories from some of the modern masters of fiction.
Jul 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
MB Taylor
May 18, 2011 rated it liked it
I finished Reading McSweeneys Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales (2002) edited by Michael Chabon on the first. It’s an interesting collection of 20 short stories. It’s a little outside my normal reading genre, but I’d read works of eight of the contributors before (and seen a movie based a book by one of the others). I thought the collection as a whole was a little better than OK. A couple of the stories I liked a lot, a few I liked, and most were ok. I didn’t think any of them we awful (althou ...more
Feb 15, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 21st-century
Quick thought on each story.

Jim Shepard - Tedford...:
Pretty good, diction made it kind of hard to read.

Glen David Gold - Tears of Squonk:
Good. Funny.

Dan Chaon - The Bees:
Awesome. Suspenseful.

Kelly Link - Catskin:
Terrible. Pointless. Reads like furry fan fiction written by 15 year old.

Elmore Leonard - Carlos Webster:
Mastery. I love pulp fiction.

Carol Emshwiller - The General:
Great. Gripping.

Neil Gaiman - Closing Time:
Kind of interesting. Don't 100% get it.

Nick Hornby - Otherwise Pandemonium:
Nov 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Rating: 8/10

Although some of the stories were more satisfying than others, there is enough excellent, entertaining material here that I was very glad to have had the chance to read this collection. The concept of short stories which contain plot and adventure, and which avoid the anti-ending, is an idea I can readily embrace.

Jim Shepard's "Tedford and the Megalodon"
A good opener. Though it is by no means the swashbuckling tale promised by the cover, I found it strangely poetic and transcendent a
Booknerd Fraser
Jan 10, 2010 rated it liked it
I always find it difficult to both finish and review short story anthologies, and partly for the same reason - there's so much stuff there. But I've got a few lying around, and this one's been here longer than most.

This volume is an attempt by the editor, Michael Chabon, to rescue the modern short story from lint-filled navel gazing in which nothing much happens to the more narrative form favored by the "genre" (that is, anything not defining itself as "literary") fiction of yesteryear. In the
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Expected More 1 15 Nov 22, 2008 03:02PM  

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Michael Chabon (b. 1963) is an acclaimed and bestselling author whose works include the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000). Chabon achieved literary fame at age twenty-four with his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), which was a major critical and commercial success. He then published Wonder Boys (1995), another bestseller, which was mad ...more