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Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan (Volume One) Hardcover – August 31, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Ms. Kiernan is a cartographer of lost worlds and constantly writes about thresholds--those harsh spaces in between two realities that she relishes being crossed, if not transgressed. --New York Times

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Product Details

  • Series: Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 552 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean; First edition (August 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596063912
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596063914
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.5 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,659,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Caitlin R. Kiernan was born near Dublin, Ireland, but has spent most of her life in the southeastern United States. In college, she studied zoology, geology, and palaeontology, and has been employed as a vertebrate palaeontologist and college-level biology instructor. The results of her scientific research have been published in the JOURNAL OF VERTEBRATE PALAEONTOLOGY, THE JOURNAL OF PALAEONTOLOGY and elsewhere. In 1992, she began writing her first novel, THE FIVE OF CUPS (it remained unpublished until 2003). Her first published novel, SILK (1998), earned her two awards and praise from critics and such luminaries as Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, and Poppy Z. Brite. Her next novel, THRESHOLD (2001), was also an award-winner, and since then she has written LOW RED MOON (2003), MURDER OF ANGELS (2004), DAUGHTER OF HOUNDS (2007), and, forthcoming, THE RED TREE. She is a prolific short fiction author, and her award-winning short stories have been collected in TALES OF PAIN AND WONDER (2000), WRONG THINGS (with Poppy Z. Brite; 2001), FROM WEIRD AND DISTANT SHORES (2002), and TO CHARLES FORT, WITH LOVE (2005), ALABASTER (2006), FROG TOES AND TENTACLES (2005), TALES FROM THE WOEFUL PLATYPUS (2007), and, most recently, the sf collection, A IS FOR ALIEN (2009). She has also scripted comics for DC/Vertigo, including THE DREAMING ('97-'01), THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE DEATH ('98), and BAST: ETERNITY GAME ('03). Her short sf novel THE DRY SALVAGES was published in 2004, and has published numerous chapbooks since 2000. Caitlin also fronted the goth-rock band Death's Little Sister in 1996-1997, once skinned a lion, and likes sushi. She lives in Providence, RI with her partner, Kathryn, and her two cats, Hubero and Smeagol. Caitlin is represented by Writer's House (NYC) and United Talent Agency (LA).

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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Brendan Moody VINE VOICE on December 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
One of the pleasures of reading widely is that you can achieve enough distance from an author's work to make you forget how brilliant it is, so that when you return to that author, the rediscovery is almost as powerful as the initial encounter. Caitlín R. Kiernan is such a talent, and her latest collection, Two Worlds and In Between, is ideal both for discovery and rediscovery. It's a "best-of" volume spanning 1993-2004, and like all great retrospectives it demonstrates at once the range of which its author is capable and the recurring themes, images, and stylistic features that make her work distinctive. At about 200,000 words and nearly 600 pages, it's a generous selection, including 25 short stories and novelettes and a long novella, each followed by a brief author's note on its genesis or its place in Kiernan's oeuvre. But enough of facts and generalities: on to the stories.

"Lucy has been at the window again, her sharp nails tap-tapping on the glass, scratching out there in the rain like an animal begging to be let in. Poor Lucy, alone in the storm. Mina reaches to ring for the nurse, stops halfway, forcing herself to believe that all she's hearing is the rasping limbs of the crape myrtle, whipped by the wind, winter-bare twigs scritching like fingernails on the rain-slick glass. She forces her hand back down onto the warm blanket. And she knows well enough that this simple action says so much. Retreat, pulling back from the cold risks; windows kept shut against night and chill and the thunder."

The tricky thing about retrospectives is that they're usually arranged chronologically, putting the weakest work in front. Kiernan herself observes of two of the first three stories in the collection that they seem to her more ambitious than successful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Coach of Alva on July 20, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ms. Kiernan has started compiling what she regards as her most representative short fiction, reprinted with new short ruminations after each tale describing her current feelings towards it. This first volume covers 1993-2004.

I love her writing because she is the only contemporary supernatural writer today who reminds me of the masters whose works led me to love this genre: James (Henry & M.R.), Blackwood, Machen, Vernon Lee, Wharton, De La Mare, and of course Lovecraft. And I love her because she brings that talent to places, alien planets and skid rows and lesbian hearts, that old timers couldn't or wouldn't visit. She can be vigorous, literate, poetic, subtle, vulgar, obscene all at the same time. I love the part of her style that is literate and poetic; I endure and accept the vulgarity and obscenity. My favorites are pure supernatural stories like, say, "Postcards from the King of Tides" and "Spindleshanks," where she not only doesn't show you whatever is disturbing the peace but makes you grateful for her reserve.

My biggest disappointment was "The Dry Salvages," her attempt to fuse science fiction with supernatural terror. I found her buildup to be her most mouthwatering since I'd read my favorite of her novels, "Threshold." Both novels had rather subdued resolutions but I reacted to them differently. I thought "Threshold" ended appropriately for a horror novel that was trying to recreate the old school frissons readers got from stories like "The Willows." I was let down by such an ending in the Salvages. I think I just wanted something different from what was, despite the atmosphere, still a sci-fi novel.

I liked most of her other science fiction horror stories, both in this collection and in her wonderful Sirenia Digest publication.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most people who have tried their hand at writing have also likely toyed with attempts in capturing the outer most peripheries of what language might be capable of doing, or of expressing our most poignant yet undefinable moments and experiences that fall into the mists of some obscure resonating feeling that is hard to put your finger on. This is where most writers will likely put on the brakes and return back to typical phrases and descriptions that have very little sense of genuine finesse or originality. This is not so much the case with Caitlin Kiernan.

Perhaps what I find most impressive about Miss Kiernan's writing is that her use of unique expression never comes across as superficial or pretentious, even when plunging very seriously into the depths of some well worn pop culture territory. With Caitlin, the consistency of visual language never feels out of place or excessive, nor does it feel anything less than literary regardless of her subject matter.

It's quite refreshing to read these darkly gothic and supernatural tales that are sincerely invested into by the author in the most intimate and dutiful sense, almost as if reading a dramatized account of some obscure piece of history. There is a unique affection that is weaved throughout every story, and this relationship creates an often wondrous experience that feels mysteriously seductive yet strained of schmaltz or pop driven sensationalism.

There are some stories that I like more than others, but what I've said above I think applies in all cases. There wasn't one story in this entire collection that I wasn't able to draw out some memorable vein of appreciation with her awe inspiring skill and imagination. And naturally I found it all to be very entertaining to boot.
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