Greg's Reviews > The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories

The Weird by Jeff VanderMeer
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Jun 11, 2012

bookshelves: teh-weird, horror, sf-fantasy-and-other-dorky-shit, to-read

Don't vote for this, it's a review in progress

This book is gigantic. It's like a thousand pages long, but each page has at least two of a normal books amount of words on it. So this is really like a two thousand page book. It's going to take awhile to get through. Some of the stories in this collection are actually novellas, and some of them are available on their own. When they are I'm going to review them on their own and just link to them. That way I'll save space in this review, and get to inflate the number of books I've read and reviews I've written. Win, win, win.

Alfred Kubin - The Other Side (3 stars)

An excerpt from a novel. All but one of the people of a city fall asleep and when they wake up animals have begun to populate the town. Sounds like a great set up for a novel, right? I'm curious to read the rest of this, although Mariel described it as so boring that she could see the nerves on the back of her eyes so maybe I won't be trying to full novel anytime soon. Kubin ran in some of the same circles as Kafka and there are similarities, especially in say the tiger scene. Or maybe it was all the rage in Eastern Europe at the time to have tigers stalking around inside of government buildings and churches.

F. Marion Crawford - Screaming Skull (2 stars)

Algernon Blackwood - The Willows (3 stars)

Saki - Sredni Vashtar (4 stars)

The shortest of the stories so far in the collection and the most satisfying. Any story that features a polecat-ferret being worshipped as a god is good with me. Plus there is no unspeakable horrors or overly psychological melodrama in this one.

M. R. James - Casting the Runes(4 stars)

The story is fairly typical for the genre, but I could be just projecting from the benefit of reading this a hundred and one years after it was first published. I'm fairly sure that the basic structure was used in at least one of Joss Whedon's TV shows. What was more interesting than the story was some of the story-telling techniques used, which are also fairly common today but have a post-modern / meta-fiction thing sort of going on. I was happy with this story.

Lord Dunsany - How Nuth Would Have Practised His Art Upon the Gnoles (3 stars)

Not that I've read many O. Henry stories, but this is kind of what I'd expect him to write if he was going to write about a thief robbing emeralds from some of scary Fae in Ireland. If I were an English teacher I'd probably want to use this story to discuss the role of a narrator in a short-story, I'm not though, and I'm trying to keep these mini-reviews short, so I'll just make mention that the narrator is a peculiar choice for this story and the question of reliability can be brought up.

Gustav Meyrink - The Man in the Bottle(2 stars)

I think me and Gustav just don't get along. I think that a film adaptation of this story could be awesome, but as a story it left me really cold.

George Heym - The Dissection(3 Stars)

A short story / poem about a body being dissected by doctors. There are some great gruesome images but I didn't quite see the point in turning it to a 'story' instead of keeping it as a poem.

Georg Heym - The Spider(4 Stars)

I'd never read of Heym before, apparently he flirted with the Nazi's for a while in their initial rise to power and then broke ties with them over the Jewish Question and their opinions on homosexuals. The Nazi's banned his books as a result and ruined him. Posterity then continued to ruin him by forever equating him with his brief affair with Hitler and company. I enjoyed this story even though it sort of runs the same trail as some of the earlier stories in this book that I didn't care for so much. The rational scientific man gets caught up with super-natural forces that he wants to have a physical explanation for but eventually realizes that they are beyond anything he can explain. This story makes me think that I like the premises of this type of story but it's the writing style that is keeping me from really enjoying some of these writers. This was a good one.

Rabindranath Tagore - The Hungry Stones(2 Stars)

Luigi Ugolini - The Vegetable Man(3 Stars)

A. Merritt - The People of the Pit(3 Stars)

Ryunosuke Akutagawa - The Hell Screen(4 Stars)

Francis Stevens - Unseen-Unfeared(3 Stars)

Franz Kafka - In the Penal Colony(5 Stars)

Stefan Grabinski - The White Wyrak(4 Stars)

After a four month 'rest', I forgot to review and rate some books. Oh, well. Maybe I'll go back and four stories I forgot to rate, and maybe even review these other stories I got distracted from writing about.

Jean Ray - The Shadowy Street(2.5 Stars)

Blah, I wasn't too impressed by this one. It had some of the same features of other stories, the structure of the narrative being told as a 'found manuscript', some of the stylistic flourishes of the 'old school' horror writers. I'm thinking that this book is going to get better for me soon as we move into the 1930's and soon leave behind the 19th century influences. What is scarier than this story? The four military people singing "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch of the fourth game of the 2012 World Series. Horrific.
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Comments (showing 1-18 of 18) (18 new)

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message 1: by Mark (new)

Mark anything by Saki is always worth reading

message 2: by Jason (new)

Jason I can like this if I want to.

message 3: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg You've just got to be difficult, don't you?

message 4: by Jason (new)

Jason Look, you can't just come onto a review I've voted for and complain that I've voted incorrectly. I think you need to personally message everyone who didn't vote for this review and tell them how much you disagree with me having voted for it.

message 5: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg I'm on it! I'm going to work on emailing all three million goodreads users and let them know you have made a huge mistake. Don't fuck with me!

message 6: by Peter (new)

Peter Is it finished?
Can we vote yet?

message 7: by Jason (new)

Jason Peter wrote: "Is it finished?
Can we vote yet?"

Screw Greg. Vote for his review whether he like it or not!

message 8: by Peter (new)

Peter But I'm fairly new here and I don't want to upset him. He seems kind of volatile...

message 9: by Jason (new)

Jason He's wicked volatile. DOO ITTT!!

message 10: by Peter (new)

Peter I'm holding my breath now

message 11: by Peter (new)

Peter No I just took it back...this is too scary

message 12: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg Jason's seems to want to thwart all my wishes.

If anyone wants to vote for this they may, but it is a failure. I only made it through about twenty percent of the book, and I failed to review a few of the stories I read. A vote for this review is a vote for my shortcomings.

message 13: by Jason (last edited Aug 30, 2012 08:33AM) (new)

Jason Greg wrote: "A vote for this review is a vote for my shortcomings."

In that case this needs to be your most popular review. I will vote for your failure by unliking and re-liking. WAY TO GO, BUDDY!!

message 14: by Peter (new)

Peter I am more wary of Greg in his shorts of many pockets than Jason in his hoody, so I will not vote for his shortcomings.

message 15: by Peter (new)

Peter Did I say wary? I meant respectful

message 16: by Jason (new)

Jason Hahah, I am the least intimidating person ever. Greg's black eye, though, is total bad-ass, right?

message 17: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg That is just the normal bags under my eyes, after going to class for some reason they look more sunken than usual. I have a very faint bruise across my forehead this week from getting elbowed, but Karen says it doesn't look impressive at all.

message 18: by Steve (new)

Steve I may have to go back and do this. Normally I try and say something about every story, but this thing is huge. I got up to Veggie Man and took a long break. I think the quality is fine, with some nice surprises. (The Spider was new for me.)

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