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Sleight of Hand Paperback – March 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Tachyon Publications (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616960043
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616960049
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #393,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This bittersweet collection of 13 recent stories pays tribute to the complicated power of family ties. "Sleight of Hand" lauds the good magic of parental love, while "What Tune the Enchantress Plays" shows its dark side. "Children of the Shark God" addresses children's influence on parents, and in "La Lune T'Attend" a grandfather protects his descendants from the family's longtime enemy. Slighter but still entertaining are "Up the Down Beanstalk," the nostalgia-heavy "The Rabbi's Hobby" (Brighton Beach Memoirs with magic), and "Oakland Dragon Blues," whose title character deserves better than his pat ending. The surprise hit of the collection is "The Bridge Partner," psychological horror in the best Twilight Zone tradition. Fans of The Last Unicorn will also appreciate "The Woman Who Married the Man in the Moon," a Schmendrick prequel in classic bittersweet Beagle style. (Apr.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review

“Multiple Hugo and Nebula award–winning Beagle opens readers’ eyes to wonder with his latest collection of 13 short stories. Each piece bridges the rich intersection of fantasy and fairy tale, reality and possibility, exploring predestination, fate, and the power of love through characters that come to vivid, three-dimensional life within a few short pages. Beagle’s lyrical writing is set in a wide range of landscapes both familiar and fresh, with twists on Jack and the Beanstalk, monsters and dragons, a singing enchantress, ghostly photographs, and a modern werewolf tale. ‘The Bridge Partner’ is more noir than fantasy yet fits within the collection quite well, as does the deeply chilling, experimental, and dark ‘Dirae.’ ‘The Woman Who Married the Man in the Moon’ features two lost children and an encounter with an early version of Schmendrick the Magician from his classic novel, The Last Unicorn. Each story is introduced with some background about its origin.”
Library Journal

“Wise, warm and deep.”
The New York Times

“This bittersweet collection of 13 recent stories pays tribute to the complicated power of family ties. ‘Sleight of Hand’ lauds the good magic of parental love, while ‘What Tune the Enchantress Plays’ shows its dark side. ‘Children of the Shark God’ addresses children’s influence on parents, and in ‘La Lune T’Attend’ a grandfather protects his descendants from the family’s longtime enemy. Slighter but still entertaining are ‘Up the Down Beanstalk,’ the nostalgia-heavy ‘The Rabbi’s Hobby’ (Brighton Beach Memoirs with magic), and ‘Oakland Dragon Blues,’ whose title character deserves better than his pat ending. The surprise hit of the collection is ‘The Bridge Partner,’ psychological horror in the best Twilight Zone tradition. Fans of The Last Unicorn will also appreciate ‘The Woman Who Married the Man in the Moon,’ a Schmendrick prequel in classic bittersweet Beagle style.”
Publishers Weekly

“Satisfying.”
Washington Post Book World

“This 13-story anthology will entice even the most jaded reader to read long hours into the night.... Sleight of Hand will beguile and enchant.”
New York Journal of Books

“Beagle still has the power to surprise...a new collection of stories by one of the all-time greats.”
The Guardian

Sleight of Hand is a strong collection by an author whose skill has only improved with time...a must-have.”
Tor.com

“Few can match [Beagle] when it comes to a particular mix of the fantastic and the ordinary, with a tinge of nostalgia. As one character observes, the magic is in the telling, always.”
Interzone

“After reading Sleight of Hand, I know exactly why Beagle has this mythic reputation as one of the best of the best in fantasy and science-fiction literary circles. The man is amazing. Nearly every story in this collection was like a spell.”
Drunken Zombie

“Demonstrates yet again why [Beagle’s] perhaps the finest fantasy writer at short lengths working today.”
Locus

“...not only one of our greatest fantasists, but one of our greatest writers, a magic realist worthy of consideration with such writers as Marquez, Allende, and even Borges.”
The American Culture

“Engaging and wide-ranging selection of fantasies...the perfect book”
Strange Horizons

“There’s quiet power here, and delicate craftsmanship, and most of all, a genuine emotional response that few short-story collections can generate.”
Green Man Review

"Peter S. Beagle is the magician we all apprenticed ourselves to."
—Lisa Goldstein, author, The Red Magician

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful collection of short stories!
Leila Yom
I'm sure some of the others will start haunting me soon; that's what usually happens to me when I read Beagle's work.
Cissa
As always, Peter S. Beagle amazes his readers with wonderful and magical stories.
Cinderellatmidnight

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Richard J. Arndt on March 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The lead-off story in this new collection is 'The Rock In The Park', one of a series of stories that Mr. Beagle wrote and narrated for the Green Man Review podcasts (They're all still online so go over and take a listen!). Each podcast relates a fantasy tale set in the 1940s-1950s revolving around a young Jewish lad (someone we know?) and his friends. This one is one of the best, dealing with the boys meeting up with a family of lost centaurs in a Bronx park.

The title tale, 'Sleight Of Hand', is a semi-autobiographical story that deals with wish fulfillment and a unique form of time travel. This is the type of story that has a way of sneaking up on you.

'The Children Of The Shark God' is a crackerjack story set in the Hawaiian isles before the coming of the white man. A brother and sister discover their father is the legendary Shark God and embark on a quest to find him and ask why he left their mother and them to fend for themselves.

'The Best Worst Monster' is a short and previously unpublished tale originally intended for a children's book. It relates the story of a mad scientist, a la Victor Frankenstein, who creates a monster to avenge the petty slights he's endured throughout the years. However, his monster has a bit more conscience in him than his creator intended.

'What Tune The Enchantress Plays' is a classic fairy tale, set in the world of 'The Innkeeper's Song' and deals with the conflict between a sorceress mother and her enchantress daughter. The differences between the two women's brands of magic are crucial.

'La Lune T'attend' is a werewolf tale set in bayou country.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sniffly Kitty on March 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'm not much of a fan of short stories because I always want more story. This compilation though was truly fantastic. I liked each and every story in this collection. Not only did I like them, I found each one to be thought-provoking although there were a couple which stood out as the best.

The magic in each story is different and some of it is more subtle than in other stories, but all of them have the feel of a master storyteller behind them. There is a foreword for each story with some background about how the story came to be written, and even the stories where Messir Beagle says he didn't feel was in his zone of comfort for writing were artfully spun.

If you're looking for a collection of short stories which will touch you emotionally as well as intellectually, you should definitely pick up Sleight of Hand.

Copy Courtesy of Tachyon Publications
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
This anthology contains thirteen fascinating "family" fantasies in which three have not been published before; one was released as a podcast; and the remaining released in the last four years. The collection is terrific though my personal favorite is "The Rock In The Park" from (the Green Man Review podcast) as Montefiore, Gun Hill Road, Jerome Avenue (with the el) and Van Cortland remind me of growing up in a more mundane household in the 1950s and 1960s in the Bronx. I suggest reading back to back the whimsical title tale in which nurturing love is the strongest magical bond and its counterweight of smothering magical love is its only equal in "What Tune the Enchantress Plays". Other super strong entries include the dark crime thriller "The Bridge Partner", the aftermath of Jack's homicide in "Up The Down Beanstalk" and "The Rabbi's Hobby" as a child and his Rabbi notice a woman appearing magazine photos from decades ago. Whether it is New York, Hawaii ("The Children Of The Shark God") or "Oakland Dagon Blues (in which Mr. Beagle co-stars), these are all winners; topped off by the opening act of Schmendrick prior to The Last Unicorn in "The Woman Who Married The Man In The Moon".

Harriet Klausner
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stefan VINE VOICE on June 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
Peter S. Beagle will probably always be best known for The Last Unicorn, the 1968 fantasy novel many consider his masterpiece, but the author has assembled a long and impressive bibliography since this perennial classic, including several excellent short story collections. The most recent of these is Sleight of Hand, recently released by Tachyon. If all you know of Peter S. Beagle is The Last Unicorn, this is as good an opportunity as any to jump in and explore the author's shorter works.

Sleight of Hand offers thirteen stories that stretch to the far corners of the fantasy field, from cute children's tales to ghost and werewolf stories, from traditional, straightforward narratives to more challenging fiction, and from humor to the most painful emotions. With such variety, you're more or less guaranteed to find something you like here.

Peter S. Beagle has one of the most distinct and recognizable voices in fantasy fiction. His writing style sometimes reminds me of the lyrics of Paul Simon, because Beagle has the same ability to sound at the same time tentative and utterly exact in his choices. His writing is never overbearing, often gently humorous, always subtle and eloquent. In fact, it's so gentle and unassuming that it's easy to miss how delicately each sentence and paragraph have been constructed. It's all easily enjoyable and readable, but there aren't very many people out there who could put a story together with such precision.

Nevertheless, as with almost any collection, some stories in Sleight of Hand are stronger than others. While none of them are anything less than good, the book contains a few stories that feel considerably less substantial than the others, which is a shame in a collection that's already short at under 300 pages.
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