Tag Archive | short fiction

Dual book review: This Way to the End Times and The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter

This Way to the End Times: Classic Tales of the ApocalypseThis Way to the End Times: Classic Tales of the Apocalypse by Robert Silverberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A diverse collection of short stories covering a wide variety of ways the world may end, or the aftermath thereof. I’m a sucker for apocalyptic fiction, and this was right up my alley. As with all short story collections, some were better than others, but all were worth reading. Presented in mostly chronological order by date of publication beginning with the early 20th Century, the reader can see how the apocalypse changes as technology advances. That all by itself makes for fascinating reading.

The Heart Is a Lonely HunterThe Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A book I read because it’s on a bunch of lists of “Books You Must Read Before You Die.”

I won’t say it was a waste of my time, but truly, I didn’t care that much about John Singer, the fellow identified by cover copy as being the main character. I was much more interested in Mick Kelly, the young girl whose family owns the boarding house in which Mr. Singer resides. Maybe that’s because I remember reading The Member of the Wedding when I was a teenager and was expecting something similar.

Maybe I’ll just reread that book.

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Book review: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and DisturbancesTrigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Is it a sufficient enough review to say Neil Gaiman is a genius? No? Didn’t think so.

He is, by the way. At least to my way of thinking. He writes the kind of short stories I love: stories that are odd and creepy and disturbing and off-kilter. Is it too much to say I consider him the man who now sits on Ray Bradbury’s throne? No, it isn’t. That’s a fair non-hyperbolic assessment.

The stories in this collection are mainly reprints gathered from various anthologies published over the past few years, with one brand new story in which we revisit the world of American Gods. I had read only one of them before; fittingly, that was “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury” from Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury, a collection that I encourage everyone to read right fucking now. Well, you can wait until after you read Trigger Warning. But I digress.

Yeah. This book. It’s mostly short stories, with some bits of poetry intermingled here and there. Like all anthologies, some tales resonated more than others, but there isn’t a clunker to be found. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “The Thing About Cassandra” explores the ramifications of telling your friends about your imaginary girlfriend.
  • “The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains” is all about consequences of past actions.
  • “Nothing O’Clock”, a story of the 11th Doctor and Amy Pond and a monster hidden inside Time.
  • “The Return of the Thin White Duke”, about a monster in search of a heart.

And several others. But the stories I loved won’t necessarily be the stories you love. You should have the joy of discovering them yourself. So go out and do that. Right now.

Thank you to LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program for the opportunity to read this book.

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Book review: Get In Trouble by Kelly Link

Get in TroubleGet in Trouble by Kelly Link

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had forgotten this was a collection of short stories, so when I pulled it off the shelf of the books waiting to be read, I was a little apprehensive. Most of the modern short stories I’ve read, especially those by authors I don’t know, present people in situations without conflict or resolution, just the guy at the bus stop in the rain, musing about the things he sees while standing under the shelter, and they end when the character gets on the bus. That’s a writing exercise, not a short story. You see, I want my short stories to tell me a story, like Shirley Jackson or Edgar Allen Poe or Ray Bradbury.

I’m happy to say Kelly Link has succeeded in that regard. In fact, I’d even compare her stories to those of Ray Bradbury or Shirley Jackson or Neil Gaiman. They have that little touch of oddity, of you-are-not-quite-safe, that I love so much. They’re eerie and disturbing and creepy and altogether lovely.

The standouts, to me, were “The Summer People”, in which a teenager takes on the task of tending to a vacation home for some unseen and decidedly odd visitors; “I Can See Right Through You”, in which a movie star visits the on-location set of his former lover’s reality TV show; and “Two Houses”, in which the crew of a spaceship tell each other ghost stories as they continue on their journey without their companion ship. My least favorite was “The Lesson”, in which a couple attends the wedding of a friend while awaiting the birth of their child by surrogate mother.

This is a collection that I’ll keep for a while to re-read.

Thank you to LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program for the opportunity to read this book.

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