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Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores Hardcover – November 30, 2002
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SHELF LIFE unique: a set of stories where bookstores form the central character. But what sets SHELF LIFE apart is that the stories here are not just tales of suspense and mystery set in bookstores, but Ray Bradbury/Ramsey Campbell-ish bookstore-tales of fantasy, wit and horror.
This anthology is a marvelous find for anyone interested in this sort of bookish thing (and I am interested in this sort of bookish thing) evoking other fantastic tales featuring bookstores - Laurence Cosse's A Novel Bookstore, Otto Penzler's anthology, Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop, Sheridan Hay's The Secret of Lost Things and Zoran Zivkovic's The Last Book.
I adore the premise of this book: fantasy stories to which a bookstore is central. I enjoyed almost every story (all but two or so), and loved some of them. I'd love to see another such collection.
Shelf Life manages to capture that feeling. Originally published in 2002, it contains 15 short stories focusing on books and wondrous bookstores. Like a good collection of fairy tales, the stories themselves are sometimes comforting and sometimes dark and scary. Ketter has collected tales from top grade talent, including Gene Wolfe, Ramsey Campbell, Charles de Lint, and Harlan Ellison.
As with an anthology, you may find that some stories resonate with you more strongly than others. Personally, I felt that the weaker stories were entertaining at worst, and the best stories seem to have stayed with me.
This is a great collection for anyone who loves books, it would make an ideal gift for a bibliophile. My one niggle is to do with the editing - some typos and the wrong words used take you out of a story very quickly. Things like 'an' instead of 'and' for example. But still a good read.