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

McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales by Michael Chabon
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really liked it
bookshelves: 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 (rather than just ambiguous in an interesting way).

Kelly Link's "Catskin" is probably the most imaginative of the bunch. Her story is especially stimulating, set among a collection of what are supposed to be "genre fiction" stories, "Catskin" reads like a fantasy, stream of conscious prose poem. Just really unabashedly unmoored from reality, but the writing never gets in the way of the tale or her strange universe in which she sets it.

Sherman Alexie's "Ghost Dance," a ghost story written from a decidedly native perspective is another highlight. Eggers's "Up the Mountain Coming Down Slowly" could be considered an adventure tale, but it really reads more like an examination of the privileged first-world psyche set at a tourist destination for thrill seekers in Africa. Dan Chaon's "The Bees" is nicely crafted through and through (it actually does end ambiguously in an interesting, rather than confusing or phoned-in way). Reading it felt like watching a Jeff Nichols film.

McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales is essentially a summer reading-type book (most of the stories are either adventure or mystery) with marquee value from the likes of Stephen King, Michael Chrichton, Michael Chabon and some of the others I mentioned earlier. It's a nice book, but, collectively it is nothing like an O'Henry collection. So the book is worth it if you just want some interesting tales written nicely, without consistently high literary-type aspirations.
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Reading Progress

August 23, 2013 – Started Reading
August 23, 2013 – Shelved
October 15, 2013 – Finished Reading

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