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Sleight of Hand

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  467 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Magic is back!

Peter S. Beagle returns with an inspired collection of fantasy stories that showcase his incomparable mastery and range. In these tales—with settings as different as an impossible reconstruction of the Berlin Wall and the kitchen of Mrs. Eunice Giant (72 Fairweather Lane, East-of-the-Bean, Sussex Overhead)—warriors, monsters, and utterly ordinary people str
Kindle Edition, 290 pages
Published November 1st 2015 by Conlan Press (first published March 1st 2011)
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Three and a half stars
An interesting collection, a couple up to Beagle's highest works and his characteristic haunting, sorrowful tone. Most are previously published in magazines or short story collections. A couple read more like writing exercises; the are polished in their own way but don't really reach excellence.

"The Rock in the Park" is about centaurs in Brooklyn. Wonderful tale about friends, magic, art and probably one of my favorites in the collection.
"Sleight of Hand" a woman wants to e
I didn't like this collection quite as much as The Line Between, which I also read this year, but it's a hard thing to ask another book to go up against one which contains "Two Hearts," "Quarry," "A Dance for Emilia," "Salt Wine," and "Mr. Sigerson," just to name my own personal favourites from the earlier book, even if both were written by the same author. This collection doesn't contain as many stunners, and actually has a couple of misfires (the Cajun werewolves jut didn't work for me) but it ...more
Jun 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps learning to think was not a good idea.
--"Dirae," p. 219
Or perhaps it was, at least in master fantasist Peter S. Beagle's case. Discoverer of A Fine and Private Place, chronicler of The Last Unicorn and interviewer of The Folk of the Air, Beagle has lost nothing of his skill in Sleight of Hand.

Sometimes writers do, you know; they grow tired of doing the same tricks, or scared of going hungry, or the well of words just runs dry on them while they just keep hauling and pouring out bucke
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another powerful experience. I'm running out of words to do justice to it, but what matters is that Peter's words aren't running out of power.

Here're some words anyway:

~ I seem to have neglected this passage from "The Rock in the Park" when I first read it in Mirror Kingdoms:

“I keep telling you, the artist isn’t the magic. The artist is the sight, the artist is someone who knows magic when he sees it. The magic doesn’t care whether it’s seen or not—that’s the artist’s business. (...)”

(So ... wha
Peter S. Beagle will probably always be best known for The Last Unicorn, the 1968 fantasy novel many consider his masterpiece, but the author has assembled a long and impressive bibliography since this perennial classic, including several excellent short story collections. The most recent of these is Sleight of Hand, recently released by Tachyon. If all you know of Peter S. Beagle is The Last Unicorn, this is as good an opportunity as any to jump in and explore the author’s shorter works.

Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adore Peter Beagle's writing. It always evokes something in me, whether it be joy, or sadness, or nostalgia. A few of the stories in this turned out to be tales I loved to some degree, and it's weird that I read this right after Kabu Kabu, since it became my favorite short story collec.rtion that I'd read to that point, then this one blew it out of the water.

Part is probably just the deftness that comes with long practice and honing of a craft. The stories all flow smoothly, just as long as t
Justyn Rampa
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To say that I loved this book would be an understatement.

Peter S. Beagle has constructed a tiny home in my heart where he will live as long as I am alive.

I am already predisposed to short fiction and this book just proves why. I marvel at power and intensity of short stories. The way they can make me laugh, cry, and think in a matter of ten pages.

Peter S. Beagle is a master of short fiction in a way I feel rivals J.D. Salinger. One of the differences between the two men of course is that Peter
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful mix of stories, some made me laugh, some cry and all made me think. I love this author, must read more.
These stories feel orthoganal to conventional fantasy in much the same way Orrin Grey's stories feel orthoganal to conventional horror for me. The infinite strangeness, and a chance to exist in that world.

"Dirae" was stunning. The moment I realized what Schmendrick meant, the same. And the finale of "The Bridge Partner" was beautiful.

Highly recommended.
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading Peter Beagle's short stories reminded me of nothing so much as the whimsy and wonder I found as a teenager, when reading Ray Bradbury. It is not only Beagle's sense of humor and ranging imagination that made me think of Bradbury, but his tendency to make deeply relatable characters from ordinary people: a bar mitzvah student, a disgruntled veteran of the Berlin Wall, a hapless bridge enthusiast. (This also holds when the main characters are less ordinary -- two elderly Cajun werewolves, ...more
Serena W. Sorrell
It is no secret that Peter is my favorite author. This is the fourth (I think) short story collection of his I've read.

It is, without a doubt, his strongest collection, in my opinion.

Within the first 20 pages I was already wistful for something I couldn't name, as happens every time I read Peter's works. I laughed and cried (a lot), I was perplexed and angry, and more than once a bit frightened (I am a coward, after all).

The range of emotions and settings and characters Peter is able to expert
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peter S. Beagle is such an amazing writer, and he sparked my love for fantasy at an incredibly young age. This is a nice collection of Beagle's work, and I found it one of those perfect books to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I would recommend this collection to anyone that enjoyed The Last Unicorn. ...more
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Peter S. Beagle has a gift for writing stories that make you feel warm and fuzzy, sometimes a bit shaken up but not in a bad way. You end up feeling like people are basically good and maybe there's hope for the world. Kind of like Clifford Simak, though the subject matter is far different. Also, I like the Bronx Jewish touch. Excellent stories. ...more
Not Sarah Connor  Writes
Another book by Peter S. Beagle to tide me over before I meet him on Monday! It makes me so sad that my library only had We Never Talk About My Brother, Sleight Of Hand, and The Last Unicorn when Beagle has written so many novels and short story books in his lifetime. At least at the tour I'll be able to buy some of his books that aren't at Chapters or the library!
Sleight Of Hand was a beautiful collection of short stories that really made me think, feel, and inspired me to write. I think that's
NC Weil
Peter S. Beagle is one of my favorite authors, a storyteller whose imagination ranges far. His 2011 anthology takes us from tough city streets where a dreaming woman's avenger metes out justice on those who prey on helpless folk, to a medieval village where a woman recounts her love affair with the Man in the Moon, to my personal favorite (if that's not being unfair to the other marvels): "The Rabbi's Hobby," involving a boy studying for his Bar Mitzvah with a rabbi with a secret quest.

Though he
Mar 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: everything
Peter Beagle is one of my favorite authors of all time so I was thrilled to hear that he had a new collection of short stories coming out and I picked up Slight of Hand as soon as I could. I can’t say that this is the best anthology of short stories Peter ever wrote. (That honor is held by We Never Talk About My Brother… with the Immortal Unicorn really high up there… I mean, I know he edited that one instead of writing it but it had Professor Gottesman and the Indian Rhinoceros in it and that c ...more
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
The Last Unicorna proto-anime classic featuring the vocal talents of Mia Farrow — epitomized grace and magic and longing for me back in preschool, a good decade before I ever fell, weeping, in love with the book on which it was based. Another decade has passed since I last re-read the story, or tried to share that love with my then-four-year-old half-sister, who found the film dull. Anyway, it's refreshing to hear his authorial voice again in this varied bunch. Peter S. Beagle is a special wr ...more
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The four stars were earned single-handedly by two of the stories. (Which makes it not-so single-handed, yes.) "Dirae" and "The Rock in the Park" both represent the best of Beagle's considerable gift of making the fantastic seem mundane and ordinary. "Dirae," especially, was a masterpiece in its own right, regardless of the fact that several circumstances conspire to keep people from calling it a classic (Wrong genre, wrong length, and it was written too recently...). But the plot is inventive, t ...more
May 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like Peter S. Beagle's writing a lot. I like his dynamic and interesting characters, his quirky twists on reality and fantasy, the originality of what pours forth from his imagination. This collection showcases all of those wonderful aspects of his writing.

Sleight of Hand has a lot to like. There's a Schmedrick story, from before he met the unicorn and Molly Grue. There's a story of a dragon in downtown San Francisco. There's a tale of an avenging angel, and another noirish story about a woman
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I'm somewhat late to Peter Beagle: I meant to get around to reading him, but for a long time I didn't, despite many recommendations. That's my loss, and I'm glad it's been rectified.

This collection shows a mature and skilled writer with a wide range and deft touch. The range is impressive: the title story is a touching, very adult consideration of loss and grief: 'The Best Worst Monster' a children's tale so wonderfully told I had to go and read it to my daughter straight away (though it's cert
Mar 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, for-review
LJ review:

Multiple Hugo and Nebula award–winning Beagle opens readers’ eyes to wonder with his latest collection of 13 short stories. Each piece bridges the rich intersection of fantasy and fairy tale, reality and possibility, exploring predestination, fate, and the power of love through characters that come to vivid, three-dimensional life within a few short pages. Beagle’s lyrical writing is set in a wide range of landscapes both familiar and fresh, with twists on Jack and the Beanstalk, monst
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a delightful book, the first I ever read after Beagle's iconic The Last Unicorn.

Sleight of Hand is a collection of Beagle's short stories, each written at various times and first published in other collections, magazines or online sites. Each short story is prefaced by the author's thoughts after the publication, and how easy or hard it was to write the piece. Background information on the characters are given, and his personal touch lends a warmth to even the darkest shape-shifters whi
Lee Dunning
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
That I'm giving five stars to a collection of short stories should be an indication to anyone who knows me at all that "Sleight of Hand" is quite excellent - I just don't usually like short stories. I know, from reading what Mr. Beagle has written about his writing, that a lot of his work is painstakingly crafted, and may not even find a final form until after many years of languishing in a file, unfinished. It's easy to lose sight of that though because his writing is so fluid, and his stories ...more
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, books-in-11
I love Peter S. Beagle's writing, so I guess it shouldn't be any surprised that I loved this book. The stories were beautifully written, and I think I'll have to seek out more of his short stories. I liked all of them, but my favorites were "The Rock in the Park," about a young Beagle and his friend discovering a family of centaurs in Central Park; "Slight of Hand," in which a woman tricks death; "Oakland Dragon Blues," concerning a police officer, an author, and a dragon; "Vanishing," an eerie ...more
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy
The Last Unicorn is one of my favorite movies ever; I still get lost in the wonderfulness of it all, even now, and I've met Peter Beagle before (Anime Expo), and he's just amazing. So when I saw this sitting on a shelf at the library, I instantly grabbed for it.

I wasn't disappointed.

Beagle has SUCH an amazing mind and I'm so glad he put it to use with all these amazing, inventive ideas. His words just flow so well that I didn't want to stop reading. I can't pick just one favorite in the bunch, t
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the most part, these are the Beagle stories I like. The two boys in Central Park who meet a centaur family lost on their way to Central Park. The rabbi searching for a girl in a picture, the man who falls asleep in a Planned Parenthood office and wakes up on the Berlin Wall.

Yes, there were a few that were classic Beagle, the kind of wizards and wizardry stories that have a hard time keeping my attention. For example, The Woman Who Loved the Man in the Moon, a story featuring the wizard Schme
Feb 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peter Beagle has a style of writing which I really enjoy. This collection of short stories is no different, although I have to say that my enjoyment varies, and I find that I prefer his pure fantasy writing as opposed to the ones that are more mystical realism, ie set in this world, rather than one imagined.

I'd be happy if I could write like him. Sometimes the way he uses words makes my breath catch in my throat. I don't think there are many writers who can evoke a sense of longing, wistfulness
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, mystery
A nice collection of fantasy short stories. There's a lot of diversity in this book, with Beagle giving us a wide range of different moods and settings, original ideas and well-built characters. With such a variety of content it's only natural that I found some tales more interesting than others, probably a simple matter of taste. However, even when I felt like a particular story was amongst the weaker of the bunch, his skillful writing and pacing and the way he infuses everything with so much c ...more
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book of short stories; and while I didn't love all of the stories; it ended with a short story about Schmendrick's past.
I love Schmendrick. I love the last unicorn. I love Peter Beagle's writing in the world of the Unicorn.
I don't love all of his world's; although they never fail to intrigue. But since this book left me on a happy note, with a page in Schmendrick's history with his brush with the Woman Who Married the Man in the Moon; I give it 4 stars. The rest of the book...enjoyab
Beagle has an ability like no other to bring magic into a non-magical place. Like myths and fairy tales, there is the feeling that it belongs in our world, even with technology and science astride it. There is a great amount of variety among these shorts, but the majority are set in the modern world, and have some magical aspect present. The best of them is Dirae, where an unnamed heroine is thown into situations that require her help. The structure has an evolution to it, as she slowly gains aw ...more
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Peter Soyer Beagle (born April 20, 1939) is an American fantasist and author of novels, nonfiction, and screenplays. He is also a talented guitarist and folk singer. He wrote his first novel, A Fine and Private Place , when he was only 19 years old. Today he is best known as the author of The Last Unicorn, which routinely polls as one of the top ten fantasy novels of all time, and at least two of ...more

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