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McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales Paperback – March 25, 2003
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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.Read more ›
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.
Elmore Leonard's "How Carlos Webster Changes his Name to Carl and Became a Famous Oklahoma Lawman" stands out as one of the best in the book, although Gaiman's "Closing Time" and Moody's "The Albertine Notes" are also standouts. Hornby's "Otherwise Pandemonium" is something of a departure for him, a sci-fi short that's quite unlike his more famous works, and Sherman Alexie's "Ghost Dance" is a really good little horror tale. Stephen King's "The Tale of Gray Dick" is entertaining in and of itself, although his hardcore fans have already read the story, which is actually an excerpt from his (at the time of this volume) not-yet-published Dark Tower novel, "Wolves of the Calla." Chabon closes off the collection with a story of his own, but "The Martian Agent, a Planetary Romance" is not a complete story, but the beginning of a serial (and if anyone can tell me if or where the rest has been published, please do so -- it's not in McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories as I expected).
Chabon's goal, he says in the introduction, was to put together an anthology of that endangered species, the plot-driven short story. He succeeded by leaps and bounds. The collection showcases a lot of different voices and a lot of different kinds of stories, but all in all, it's far more entertaining than most short story anthologies.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A huge disappointment. It's as if every story (save Elmore Leonard's contribution) were some sort of inside joke written to truly entertain and thrill no one.Published 9 months ago by John Hargrove
For me, the second story (Glen David Gold, "Tears of Squonk...") was worth the price of the book. I'm glad I didn't miss it!
Like most anthologies, this one is uneven. Read more
Let it be known: Alongside The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories and Children Playing before a Statue of Hercules, this is one of the premier collections of modern... Read morePublished on November 10, 2013 by Matt M. Martin
This is one of those price fixing scandal books. I won't buy it asa long as that is the case. Put this on your "wish list" and wait for a fair price. Read morePublished on April 12, 2012 by Martin Kilgore
I bought this anthology because I love Chabons work and it included other notable authors I enjoy. As should be expected not all the stories are great, some are just terrible. Read morePublished on January 11, 2012 by GaWalker
After reading this book of "thrilling" tales, I'd hate to read a book of boring ones. This work is uneven throughout and dull in many places. Very few stories stand out.Published on November 28, 2011 by J. Smallridge
I have started cataloging my daughter's books on Library Thing (having done all my own) and came across this..now wonder...how did I miss these great short stories. Read morePublished on June 25, 2010 by Elizabeth, the Traveler (Atlanta, Georgia)
The other reviewers have summed it up: I wanted to like this collection, but it let me down. If you must read it, get it from the library -- it is not a keeper.Published on July 10, 2007 by Jack
Neil Gaiman's "Closing Time" was the only story that came close to being good.Published on June 15, 2007 by DM