Emily's Reviews > McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales

McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales by Michael Chabon
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did not like it
bookshelves: 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 stuffy and pretentious loss. But for the most part the stories in this collection read like poor attempts at genre writing by literary authors. Which is strange, since so many of the authors are first-rate genre writers.

So, we all know that short story collections are hard sells. As a reader I prefer to immerse myself in a long narrative, something that I can’t put down. With an anthology, there are as many places to put the book down as there are stories. Even after a great story—and there are a few of these in the collection (notably “The Bees,” by Dan Chaon; “Otherwise Pandemonium,” by Nick Hornby, and “The Albertine Notes,” by Rick Moody)—the reader feels like taking a break to cleanse the palate. So this collection took me a looong time to get through.

In the end, I didn’t quite make it. I almost gave up during the first story, Jim Shepard’s “Tedford and the Megalodon.” I just kept waiting for the story to begin, and then it was over. By the time I got to Chabon’s story, the last in the book, I just gave up. It seems to be set in an alternate history steampunk world, but the writing is fairly impenetrable. I just couldn’t do it.

In arranging an anthology it’s important to choose the first and last stories carefully. In the immortal words of Mitch Hedberg, “You can’t be like pancakes, all exciting at first, but by the end you’re fuckin’ sick of ‘em.” This was not exciting at first, or at the end. Boo.

I think I’ll go back to novels for a while.
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Reading Progress

December 12, 2011 – Shelved
December 28, 2011 – Started Reading
January 2, 2012 – Finished Reading
January 3, 2012 – Shelved as: short-stories

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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Madhu R Great review! Spot on


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