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Fancies and Goodnights (New York Review Books) Paperback – May 31, 2003
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Intense like poems, compressed like epigrams, short stories have always inclined to the lyrical and biting. No story writer ever bit more sharply or wrote more gracefully than John Collier. When I first encountered his work, twenty-five years ago, I was shocked by his plots and delighted by his cruelty; now I take my delight in the dark silky stuff of his prose style, and the shock lies in his faultless execution and in his mastery of craft. If you don’t know his work, you owe yourself the pleasure—the indispensable pleasure—of Collier.
— Michael Chabon
Here is a world of moonshine and madness, of suburbia invaded by fiends and angels, of magic spells, grotesque melodrama and lunatic farce, surprising, ludicrous, terrifying.
— The New York Times
In this collection, Collier uses clever, evocative prose to tell dozens of brief tales that vault off at peculiar, fantastical angles with often startlingly—and amusingly—cruel conclusions….At his best it is a mystery how he fell from attention. Erased from history for half a century like a character in one of his stories, Collier deserves rediscovery.
— Rob Haynes, Time Out (London)
Preponderantly from the New Yorker, these haunted lullabies and sanguine whimsies which range from the civilized horror of Saki to extravagant parody, display an affectionate familiarity with evil, sharpen drama with irony.
— Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
John Collier (1901-1980) was born in London. He began his writing career as a poet, first publishing in 1920. He turned to fiction in the early 1930s, producing the popular and controversial novel, His Monkey Wife, about a man who is married to a chimpanzee. In 1935 Collier left England for Hollywood, where he became an active and prolific writer for film and later television; he was particularly influential in developing the brilliantly creepy and subversive style of such television classics as “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Twilight Zone.” An adaptation from Milton, Paradise Lost: Screenplay for Cinema of the Mind was published in 1973, but never produced as a film. Collier’s other works range from the poetry collection Gemini (1931) to the novels Tom’s A-Cold(1933) and Defy the Foul Fiend (1934), and the short story collections Presenting Moonshine (1941), Fancies and Goodnights (1951), Pictures in the Fire (1958), The John Collier Reader (1972), and The Best of John Collier (1975).
Ray Bradbury started writing fiction at the age of twelve and published his first story when he was twenty. He has since written more than thirty books—novels, stories, essays, plays, and poems—including The Martian Chronicles (1950), the futuristic novel Fahrenheit 451 (1952), and a collection of short stories The Illustrated Man (1951). He lives with his wife in Los Angeles.
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It wasn't until listening to a lecture given by the late Ray Bradbury that I discovered this man during Ray's talk on the "Hygiene of Writing". I promptly looked him up and saw several other prominent authors mention him as influences to their work. So, being an amateur writer and a lover of reading, I picked up this book. When I opened the page to the first story, a man who wants riches and woman and seeks them from a tricky man in a bottle, I didn't know exactly what to expect.
Well I can tell you to expect thrills and twists like you wouldn't believe.
Each story by Mr. Collier is PACKED with metaphor and twists and simple imagery that will make you say, "Wow, I never thought of it like that but its true." or, as was the case with me on several occasions, "Now THAT is an ending!"
To refrain from making this too long let me put it this way. I am an avid reader and I can say, wholeheartedly, that John Collier has a fan in me. If you love a good short story, or just good early 20th century literature in general, then you owe it to yourself to pick up this book!
This book should be must reading in all the colleges in the US of A. They are simply great dark fantasies some with twisted shock endings.
Very highly recommended. Enjoy.
As a fifteen year old book lover, I eagerly devoured the contents and have remembered the stories all these years. Now at age 70, I have purchased it again, having sadly lost the original. The short tales written by John Collier are still as I remember - each unique and often startling - but definitely memorable.
This book is a keeper. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves short stories written by a master.
Valerie Byron author of NO ORDINARY WOMAN, THE MAN WHO LOST HIS GENIUS & OTHER STORIES, and SURPRISINGLY SHORT STORIES