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McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales Paperback – March 25, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Books ed edition (March 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140003339X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400033393
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #654,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Chabon teams up with the editors of Dave Eggers's McSweeney's magazine to create a fiction anthology with an innovative, simple concept: the stories are driven by adventurous plots and narrative action, in contrast to the current trend toward stories that are "plotless and sparkling with epiphanic dew," as Chabon writes in his introduction. The roster includes such heavyweights as Michael Crichton, Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, Nick Hornby and Harlan Ellison. As the retro title might suggest, the collection is heavy on sci-fi and detective stories, often updated with contemporary twists. Crichton offers a detective yarn called "Blood Doesn't Come Out," in which a disgruntled PI takes out his frustration on his wife in a cheeky spin on the domestic violence that punctuates the pulp fiction of Jim Thompson and James A. Cain. Hornby's contribution is an entertaining sci-fi story called "Otherwise Pandemonium," about a man who buys a VCR that fast-forwards into an apocalyptic future. In Rick Moody's "The Albertine Notes," a debilitating drug called Albertine wreaks havoc by sending users back in time to relive their memories. Dave Eggers's "Up the Mountain Coming Down Slowly" is a thoughtful story in which a woman climbs Kilimanjaro to bolster her self-confidence after experiencing a personal crisis, but proves oblivious to the deaths of three porters when the weather on the mountain turns ugly. Half a dozen or so stories are markedly slight, but overall this is a strong collection.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Set up five years ago, this was a literary magazine and here is the tenth issue. It is now well established in America and this issue includes new work from Aron Chabon, Eggers, Stephen King, Nick Hornby, Elmore Leonard and others. I particularly enjoyed Nick Hornby's tale of the end of the world as seen first on a video recorder. It is chilling and vastly readable. Also, the Elmore Leonard story of fearless young Carlos, who shoots a bank-robbing killer who has eaten his ice-cream cone, is a humdinger. This volume makes first class bedside reading. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

I read about 350 pages and just plain got tired of it.
Vox Popeye
Providing a bow for this finely wrapped collection, Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon edits it, includes a wonderful story, and a good introduction.
J. A Magill
If you must read it, get it from the library -- it is not a keeper.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By mrliteral VINE VOICE on May 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales was a book I really wanted to like. After all, it featured short stories from some really great writers, and the emphasis was going to be on adventure. I really wanted to like it, and found it disappointing that the book was only entertaining in spots.
The goal of the book, as Chabon states in the introduction, is to have an anthology of short stories in a more "classic" vein: the sort of stories that were published in decades past, filled with fun and mystery as opposed to the more literary, plotless, "moment-of-truth" stories of today. Unfortunately, this book did not make me long for yesteryear, but instead made me think that the passing of short genre fiction was not necessarily a bad thing.
The biggest flaw in the book is that the authors - almost all excellent at long fiction, seem to be unable to write a truly good short story. A couple stories, such as "The General" and "The Albertine Notes" are borderline unreadable. Most of the others are just so-so. Even Stephen King - who has shown over the years that he is adept in short fiction as well as novels - has contributed an only mildly okay story which is probably only best enjoyed by his Dark Tower fans. And Harlan Ellison - a master of the short story and an author who I really enjoy - is also a disappointment here, with a story which comes more as a Harlan Ellison parody than the real thing.
There are one or two gems in the bunch (but not much more). Nick Hornby and Elmore Leonard have written a couple good stories, but that's around it.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The premise of this anthology was terrific-- round up a bunch of first rate (mostly "literary") writers and have them do stories that are unpretentious, unaffected, rip roaring good reads. Just look at the cover illustration and you know what I mean. But the more the literary the writers here, the more it's plain that most of them saw the project as a kind of fun-slumming and as a result, their work wreaks of condescension and self-parody. The only good stories here are written by the likes of Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock and Kelly Link. Genre writers all, but nevertheless heads and tails better than the likes of Rick Moody, Dave Eggers, Jim Shepard, Chabon, etcetera. If you want to read a knockout anthology that wonderfully achieves everything this antho doesn't, check out "CONJUNCTIONS:39-- The New Wave Fabulists" The contrast between the two collections is profound.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
As might be expected with any collection such as this, it's uneven. I appreciate the idea of re-creating the old pulp style stories and the roster of authors are all top-notch, but a lot of the tales are too cute by half. I love stories that have a flair to them, but sometimes that gets taken to the extreme and damages the narrative. It would seem to me, as someone who has made a hobby of collecting the old pulp comics and magazines, that you can't have it both ways. If you want to throw a curveball at your reader, you can't do it in a lackadaisical manner, which some of these authors tend to do.
I made a conscious effort to read each story and give each one a chance and there was really only one that I gave up on, mostly because it was too long. The best, for me, were the contributions by (no real surprises)Glen David Gold, Elmore Leonard, and Neil Gaiman. I was a little surprised by how much I didn't like the Stephen King story and editor Michael Chabon's contribution was also a bit thin. Indeed, Chabon's story seemed to exemplify what was wrong with the stories that just didn't seem to work. He tried too hard to capture the pulp spirit and in doing so ended up with an interesting story but not a very entertaining one.
I thought overall the book is worth reading, although I think perhaps it's better to read the stories piecemeal when your appetite for that type of story is piqued.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Andrew C. McMurry on April 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
I had great hopes for this anthology, but to be charitable, it's not a must-read. Michael Chabon wanted to bring together strong genre and mainstream writers to reinvigorate the short story by turning away from the ubiquitous "moment of truth New Yorker-type" story toward the classic generic tale, i.e., the plot driven short. But the mainstream writers in this collection write as if they know they are slumming, and, ironically, they try too hard to elevate their stories above the very genres they are working in. Thus, the stories don't satisfy at any level, because they're neither very good at playing the generic game nor significant in their own right. As for the generic writers like Ellison, King, Leonard, and Moorcock--well, their stories are about what you'd expect, which means they don't really belong here at all. Their inclusion here mainly serves to underline the failure of the other writers to play the generic game with any success. (Not that these stories are particularly memorable either: Ellison's effort, for example, is a story I've read in one form or another in almost every one of his collections, and King's story from the Roland cycle could conceivably interest those readers who have had the extraordinary patience to follow the Roland cycle in the first place.) The bright spots are stories by Neil Gaiman and, surprisingly, Dave Eggars himself, publisher of McSweeney's. The latter is written with a great deal of care and respect for the reader and the genre (which I'd characterize as the Hemingwayesque travel-adventure tale) and it does manage to revivify that genre in a way the other stories all-too often fail to do.Read more ›
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