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2: The Man with the Aura: The Collected Short Fiction, Volume Two Hardcover – March 17, 2015
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That said, any Lafferty, at any price, is worth more than water in the Sahara, so let's get down to what's in here. Four of the stories were originally published in Damon Knight's Orbit series. Others come from genre magazines or small press publishers, and one from Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions. Harlan Ellison himself wrote the introduction. I found it disappointing, since it's as much about Harlan as it is Lafferty. But what do you expect from a guy who copyrighted his own name?
The first story, "The Man with the Aura," I found interesting but not captivating. "One at a Time" is a classic Lafferty tall tale, immensely funny yet also poignant and with a message most readers will miss. I missed it, but I sense it's there. "Red Licorice" is a fountain of youth story, funny, but not fancy, that degenerates into farce. "Land of the Great Horses," originally published in Dangerous Visions, is a story only Lafferty could write. I won't even try to describe it. "Anamnesis" is more so. I don't even understand the title. The story itself could keep a hundred mythologists busy for a hundred years. Funny, though. And how can you not like a guy called Melchisidech Duffy? "Ginny Wrapped in the Sun" is one of Lafferty's excursions into human evolution, a piece of monkey business that would make Darwin wake up screaming. "Pleasures and Palaces" is not one of Lafferty's great stories, it's merely better than what almost anyone else can do at their best. "Continued on Next Rock," on the other hand, is simply one of the greatest fantasy stories of all time, beautifully sculpted, shot with snatches of marvelous poetry, a plot transcendently imaginative, and, rare for Lafferty. a love story. Read it and weep."Gray Ghost: A Reminiscence" is a funny story, a Halloween tale, with possibly some grains of truth at the bottom, set in Lafferty's boyhood in Tulsa. He even puts himself into the story, as Laff, though in a minor role. Read it aloud around a campfire, it's also scary. "Ride a Tin Can." Begorrah, this is a good story! Who else but Lafferty could combine Irish folklore and science fiction? "Hog-belly Honey" is a very funny story about a wacky inventor. "All Hollow Though You Be" is yet funnier, and who else could make you think that the Earth might actually be hollow? "I Don't Care Who Keeps The Cows" is one of those maddeningly odd Lafferty stories where the surface story has a deeper layer of social, religious or philosophical criticism. Or he might just be joking. "Old Halloween on the Guna Slopes" is another Halloween story, full of Lafferty stock characters who appear in many of these stories, and some of his novels. "The Ultimate Creature" is a science fiction story that reads like a Greek Myth--with a grisly ending. "Great Day in the Morning," again featuring Melchilsidech Duffy, is a story so bizarre that it seems scarcely possible that the human mind could conceive it. An end of the world without a bang or a whimper, but a day where everything is transformed into--what? I don't have words for it. "Scorner's Seat," the last story, is again a myth disguised as science fiction or fantasy. Genres don't matter. Laff exits, still laughing.
For some reason, LAFFERTY is especially popular with young people and first year English majors. If you know someone in that category, I urge you to buy them several of these collections to round out their summer reading program.