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Stories Hardcover – Import, June 15, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (June 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755336607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755336609
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 9.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,695,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Bunker VINE VOICE on June 7, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In the introduction to this volume of short stories, co-editor Neil Gaiman laments the narrowness of "commercial fantasy", which "tends to drag itself through already existing furrows, furrows dug by J.R.R. Tolkien or Robert E. Howard". So the goal (as I read Gaiman's rather vague introduction) was to gather together a collection of original short stories that explore the possibilities of the fantastic outside these well-plowed furrows.

This is, of course, not a new idea. There are legions of stories and novels that have traveled the realms of fantasy without the help of hobbits or barbarians. And indeed, many of the stories here fit fairly neatly into some existing sub-genre: ghost story, vampire story, etc. A few stories have no element of fantasy, but confine themselves to bad or weird real-world goings on.

The question of whether this volume breaks new ground aside, it's a strong collection, whose hits easily outweigh its misses. The stories are mostly by well-established authors, with awards and best-sellers to their credit. The stories are described as "all-new", so presumably they appear here for the first time.

"Blood" by Roddy Doyle: A sorta-kinda vampire story. Pretty good, but I was annoyed by the pointless affectation of not using quote marks. You ain't Cormac McCarthy, Roddy, and it's a pointless affectation when Cormac McCarthy does it, anyway.
"Fossil-Figures" by Joyce Carol Oates: An evil twin story. A well written, respectable piece of work of the sort Oates is known for.
"Wildfire In Manhattan" by Joanne Harris: A 'the old gods are still among us' story. Nice; had me smiling over the artistic turns of phrase at several points.
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Above are the four words that Neil Gaiman writes about in his introduction to the collection edited by himself and Al Sarrantonio. "And then what happened."--the four words that every storyteller longs to hear. That child-like impulse is the essence of what he and Sarrantonio wanted to evoke with this collection. On that basis, they were largely successful. These diverse stories, written by an impressive array of writers, kept me turning the pages and, yes, wondering what would happen next.

In some cases, I didn't have to wonder long. The stories range in length from a mere three pages to an impressive 48. Despite his name appearing in 72-point font on the book's cover, Mr. Gaiman contributes only one story in addition to his introduction. So, die-hard Gaiman fans, don't be disappointed. Instead, revel in the embarrassment of riches that have been brought together. This story collection features contributors who are among the best in genre fiction (Gene Wolfe, Joe R. Lansdale, Michael Swanwick, Peter Straub), literary fiction (Stuart O'Nan, Joyce Carol Oates, Walter Mosley, Roddy Doyle), and popular fiction (Jeffrey Deaver, Jodi Picoult, Joe Hill, Chuck Palahniuk). Honestly, I barely brushed the surface of all the big-name contributors, so very many of whom are long-time favorites of mine.

I'll be honest, not every single story is a slam dunk, but not one was a stinker. The one I liked best (possibly Carolyn Parkhurst's featuring an unreliable narrator) might be the one you liked least. These things are so subjective. The overall quality of contributions is high. Whether you're looking for quick palate cleansers between longer works, or you're looking forward to reading this collection cover to cover, I feel confident in asserting that there's something for everyone to be found within these pages.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In his introduction, Neil Gaiman says that he feels that fiction has become too constrained by genre and types, and he wanted to offer authors free reign in crafting "stories" (thus the title of the book). The only thing he demanded is that they were well-written, and had the ability to grasp the reader in a way that the reader is hanging on each page, uttering those magical four words "And then what happened?" As a reader, I was pretty excited by that introduction; because that is a feeling I absolutely love. I love it when I am so engrossed in a story that I sacrifice some hours sleep and being tired at work the next day because I simply can't put a book down. And I especially love short stories, so I was looking forward to something original and engrossing.

"Stories" doesn't really deliver on Gaiman's intentions. Oh, there are some great stories here, but they are far too few, maybe four or five out of twenty-eight in total. The rest range from "so-so" to downright bad. If this is the best that a famous man of letters like Gaiman could gather, than I worry that the captivating short story might be a lost art.

Gaiman himself delivered one of my favorites of the collection, "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains," full of jacobites and cursed gold in the Scottish highlands. The other standout was "The Stars are Falling" by Joe R. Lansdale, a haunting tale of a returning WWI vet. "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellpheron" by Elizabeth Hand was a lovely little tale, and could easily have been the plot for an episode of The Twilight Zone, my all-time favorite TV show. I liked the story of "The Devil on the Stairs" by Joe Hill, although the conceit of spacing the letters so it looked like a staircase was distracting and unnecessary.
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