Grant Cousineau's Reviews > McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales

McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales by Michael Chabon
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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 not clearly struggling to write in styles that don't come naturally to them--Michael Crichton's seemingly ending-less crime story, or Sherman Alexie's attempt at a zombie story, except the zombies are Custer's army for some reason--they're phoning it in and just writing whatever they feel like. King basically writes a Dark Tower based short story about plate chucking that later ends up in one of his novels. Chabon's "The Martian Agent, a Planetary Romance" uses PhD-level vocabulary to tell a story in his traditional, long windy sentences, but unless you're clearheaded with a cup of strong coffee, or have memorized the thesaurus, its a lot to take in. I mean, "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" is arguably my all-time favorite novel, but at least he gives the story time to breathe between poetically worded sentences and long, almost self-indulgent paragraphs.

But that's not to say there weren't good stories in here. Glen David Gold's "The Tears of Squonk, and What Happened After," about an elephant on a murder rampage was great, and "How Carlos Changed His Name to Carl..." was rich and right up Elmore Leonard's lane. I also enjoyed Dave Eggers' "Up the Mountain Coming Down Slowly" and, of course, Dan Chaon's "The Bees" was great. I wonder if it would have fit in an old time pulpy story, but reading about a man haunted by the family he once left after he'd started a new one....extremely gripping, easy to read, and classic Chaon.
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Reading Progress

July 8, 2018 – Shelved
July 8, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
October 30, 2018 – Started Reading
December 21, 2018 – Finished Reading

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