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"The joy of fiction is the joy of the imagination. . . ." The best stories pull readers in and keep them turning the pages, eager to discover more—to find the answer to the question: "And then what happened?" The true hallmark of great literature is great imagination, and as Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio prove with this outstanding collection, when it comes to great fict "The joy of fiction is the joy of the imagination. . . ." The best stories pull readers in and keep them turning the pages, eager to discover more—to find the answer to the question: "And then what happened?" The true hallmark of great literature is great imagination, and as Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio prove with this outstanding collection, when it comes to great fiction, all genres are equal. Stories is a groundbreaking anthology that reinvigorates, expands, and redefines the limits of imaginative fiction and affords some of the best writers in the world—from Peter Straub and Chuck Palahniuk to Roddy Doyle and Diana Wynne Jones, Stewart O'Nan and Joyce Carol Oates to Walter Mosley and Jodi Picoult—the opportunity to work together, defend their craft, and realign misconceptions. Gaiman, a literary magician whose acclaimed work defies easy categorization and transcends all boundaries, and "master anthologist" (Booklist) Sarrantonio personally invited, read, and selected all the stories in this collection, and their standard for this "new literature of the imagination" is high. "We wanted to read stories that used a lightning-flash of magic as a way of showing us something we have already seen a thousand times as if we have never seen it at all." Joe Hill boldly aligns theme and form in his disturbing tale of a man's descent into evil in "Devil on the Staircase." In "Catch and Release," Lawrence Block tells of a seasoned fisherman with a talent for catching a bite of another sort. Carolyn Parkhurst adds a dark twist to sibling rivalry in "Unwell." Joanne Harris weaves a tale of ancient gods in modern New York in "Wildfire in Manhattan." Vengeance is the heart of Richard Adams's "The Knife." Jeffery Deaver introduces a dedicated psychologist whose mission in life is to save people in "The Therapist." A chilling punishment befitting an unspeakable crime is at the dark heart of Neil Gaiman's novelette "The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains." As it transforms your view of the world, this brilliant and visionary volume—sure to become a classic—will ignite a new appreciation for the limitless realm of exceptional fiction.


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"The joy of fiction is the joy of the imagination. . . ." The best stories pull readers in and keep them turning the pages, eager to discover more—to find the answer to the question: "And then what happened?" The true hallmark of great literature is great imagination, and as Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio prove with this outstanding collection, when it comes to great fict "The joy of fiction is the joy of the imagination. . . ." The best stories pull readers in and keep them turning the pages, eager to discover more—to find the answer to the question: "And then what happened?" The true hallmark of great literature is great imagination, and as Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio prove with this outstanding collection, when it comes to great fiction, all genres are equal. Stories is a groundbreaking anthology that reinvigorates, expands, and redefines the limits of imaginative fiction and affords some of the best writers in the world—from Peter Straub and Chuck Palahniuk to Roddy Doyle and Diana Wynne Jones, Stewart O'Nan and Joyce Carol Oates to Walter Mosley and Jodi Picoult—the opportunity to work together, defend their craft, and realign misconceptions. Gaiman, a literary magician whose acclaimed work defies easy categorization and transcends all boundaries, and "master anthologist" (Booklist) Sarrantonio personally invited, read, and selected all the stories in this collection, and their standard for this "new literature of the imagination" is high. "We wanted to read stories that used a lightning-flash of magic as a way of showing us something we have already seen a thousand times as if we have never seen it at all." Joe Hill boldly aligns theme and form in his disturbing tale of a man's descent into evil in "Devil on the Staircase." In "Catch and Release," Lawrence Block tells of a seasoned fisherman with a talent for catching a bite of another sort. Carolyn Parkhurst adds a dark twist to sibling rivalry in "Unwell." Joanne Harris weaves a tale of ancient gods in modern New York in "Wildfire in Manhattan." Vengeance is the heart of Richard Adams's "The Knife." Jeffery Deaver introduces a dedicated psychologist whose mission in life is to save people in "The Therapist." A chilling punishment befitting an unspeakable crime is at the dark heart of Neil Gaiman's novelette "The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains." As it transforms your view of the world, this brilliant and visionary volume—sure to become a classic—will ignite a new appreciation for the limitless realm of exceptional fiction.

30 review for Stories: All-New Tales

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Like most short story collections, this one is a mixed bag. There were some great ones, some pretty good ones, some that were instantly forgettable, and a few that flat out stunk. Favorites: "The Devil on the Staircase" by Joe Hill; "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains" by Neil Gaiman; "A Life in Fictions" by Kat Howard; "The Therapist" by Jeffery Deavers; "Catch and Release" by Lawrence Block; and "Loser" by Chuck Palahniuk. Absolute Favorite: "Wildfire in Manhatten" by Joanne Harris. I ex Like most short story collections, this one is a mixed bag. There were some great ones, some pretty good ones, some that were instantly forgettable, and a few that flat out stunk. Favorites: "The Devil on the Staircase" by Joe Hill; "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains" by Neil Gaiman; "A Life in Fictions" by Kat Howard; "The Therapist" by Jeffery Deavers; "Catch and Release" by Lawrence Block; and "Loser" by Chuck Palahniuk. Absolute Favorite: "Wildfire in Manhatten" by Joanne Harris. I expected to like the Hill and Gaiman stories - I'm a fan of both authors. I was also looking forward to trying Deavers and Block. Kat Howard was a pleasant surprise, as this was her first published work, and it's shorter than most. But I really liked the imagery. I found myself grinning madly as I finished the Palahniuk story. As he did with Fight Club, his cynical humor really hits the mark. I have never read Joanne Harris before, but I loved (*****) her story in this collection. Enough that I'll be checking out other work by her on her website. If the entire book had been up to the level of these I just listed, it would be a 5-star affair, easily. There are several other stories that are still good, though I didn't list them with the favorites: stories by Michael Swanwick, Gene Wolfe, Elizabeth Hand, Tim Powers, and Jodi Picoult made for an enjoyable experience. So what dropped the rating to a three-star? The inclusion of "Samantha's Diary" by Diana Wynne Jones, "Mallon the Guru" by Peter Straub, "The Cult of the Nose" by Al Sarrantonio, and "Stories" by Michael Moorcock. Those that have followed my reviews in the last few months might be surprised by that last one, but the Moorcock story was easily the worst in the entire book. It might have been the worst story I've ever read. That says a lot, as I'm a longtime Moorcock fan. Well, I was a fan of his work before he got too smart for his readers and learned how to string a mile-long sentence full of empty, pretentious bullshit. Then to string along a series of these sentences to fill the pages of a book. He uses such big words, drops literary references more than he inserts commas, and says absolutely fucking nothing. Oh, and those literary references? I'm probably too stupid to be reading Moorcock anyway, but I only recognized one. The rest were names strewn across the paper as meaningless as the narrative that contained them. This story alone was almost enough to send the book to 2-star Hell. I didn't realize I had such venom for that story. I honestly am surprised I felt anything at all but the onset of an Excedrin headache. There was a positive note to the Moorcock story though: it made me forget the wasted time spent reading the Jones, Straub, and Sarrantonio stories. Such a long review without spoilers. If you've read this far, I will once more reiterate the opinion that the book is a fun experience, overall. The inclusion of a few turds should not detract one from picking it up. The good stories are excellent and should not be missed. And how often does one pick up a collection that doesn't have a few stinkers in it?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Whew! Finally finished! I feel like I've been reading this collection for a month and a half! Oh wait, I have. It's the book that I would occasionally lug with me anytime I thought that I would have 20 minutes to spare on it, but often it just sat by my bedside waiting to be picked up. Story collections are like that for me. I have this grand notion that I will read a story in between other things, and that over the course of a few days, I'll work my way through... But, then the lack of a compel Whew! Finally finished! I feel like I've been reading this collection for a month and a half! Oh wait, I have. It's the book that I would occasionally lug with me anytime I thought that I would have 20 minutes to spare on it, but often it just sat by my bedside waiting to be picked up. Story collections are like that for me. I have this grand notion that I will read a story in between other things, and that over the course of a few days, I'll work my way through... But, then the lack of a compelling single narrative means that I have no incentive to actually pick it up and end up reading all of the other things more. But still... it took a while, but it's read, and it can finally stop staring at me from its place on the shelf, guilting me for accepting an ARC of a book way back in 2011 which I was clearly NEVER going to read. (What are you, my mother?? :P) ANYWAY... I read it. And... *Shrug* It was what most anthologies tend to be, a mix of some real winners and some real snoozers. I loved about a quarter of the stories in this collection: Fossil-Figures by Joyce Carol Oates - I loved the perspective of the brother, and his utter loathing and eventual dependence on his twin brother. I loved how he overshadowed him his whole life, only to need him to lean on at the end. Wildfire in Manhattan by Joanne Harris - So I'm just going to put this out there that Joanne Harris and Neil Gaiman need to write a folklore/ancient mythology story together. I absolutely loved this story and Harris's take on modern gods and mythology. The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman - I loved the way that this story unfolded and how little by little you come to know what happened, and why we're on this quest, and how it can only end one way. And then, you think, wait, it won't end that way, will it? There will be a reconsideration. There is not. And I don't know how I feel about that. And that makes me love the story even more, that it can leave me feeling so invested in these two characters that I'm unsure whose side I should take and what a fitting conclusion is. Brilliant. The Stars are Falling by Joe R. Lansdale - This was the 6th story in the book, and the first non-fantasy, just plain real story, and it threw me for a loop, because I thought it was a fantasy collection, but there are no rules. Just stories. Anyway, I loved this story. It was heart-breaking though. All I wanted was for this man to be able to come home from the war and resume his life... but his life had other plans. This story was raw and cold and felt like a November morning, and I liked it for that. Catch and Release by Lawrence Block - Oh, man. This was so good. I knew that the fishing being done tweren't the standard kind, but the perspective of this story, and the way it concluded... brilliant. The Cult of the Nose by Al Sarrantonio - I wasn't sure what to think about this story at first, and was priming myself not to like it. But then all of the pieces fell together, and I realized that somewhere along the way, I'd ended up loving this story, and it might actually be my favorite of the whole collection. I know! I was as surprised as you are! I loved the narrator, and the narration, and how the reader is directed along to this conclusion that the narrator wants to be made... but if you look obliquely, just out of the corner of your eye, say, as the Cultists tend to be seen, scampering and laughing amid the wreckage of human life, you understand the truth. Plus, I just loved the imagery of the nose masks. So good. The Devil on the Stairs by Joe Hill - I'm surprised that I enjoyed this story as much as I did, considering that on the surface, it is all of the things that I dislike: Writing in verse, shitty characters that just get away with it and gain money and power, casual racism. But Joe Hill is one of my favorite authors for reasons OTHER than his parentage, and the way that he told the story made me realize that what is on the surface, is not all that there is. For one, it's not really written in verse... it's written in stairs. Up and down, one way and back, all the treks of this man's life path are a never-ending set of climbs and descents. Except when dealing with the Devil. There, we're paused. We're in limbo, purgatory, perhaps. Straight prose, boring, stagnant. And then we resume the climb, and the deal pays off. But, it doesn't. Because despite it all, he alone knows the truth and the suffering, and he must live with them. Or maybe that is just what I want to see. Who knows? Great stories that were almost favorites but not quite... Weights and Measures by Jodi Picoult - This story was about grief, and the way that parents change because of it... With magical-realism. Or, maybe it was in their heads and their perceptions of themselves. Not sure. But it was a powerful little story, and I really liked it. Land of the Lost by Stewart O'Nan - This one was a sort of piece of a story rather than a full story, but it told enough to get its point across, I think. It's the way that obsession and the need to be needed can cause us to lose ourselves while trying to find others. Pretty moving, I thought, but I would have liked a bit more to the story. A Life in Fictions by Kat Howard - I liked this one as I was reading it, but like some of the others, the full story and the implications of it all came together at the end and made me appreciate it even more as time has passed. (view spoiler)[As I was reading it, I felt vaguely dirty and disturbed, like watching someone being harassed and helpless to stop it. And then it dawned on me that that was EXACTLY what was happening, metaphorically. The main character was her writer boyfriend's inspiration and muse... which wouldn't be a problem, except that when he writes, she disappears from the real world and into the story he's writing, and has to play it out. All his stories, whether it's a cozy mystery, or hardcore BDSM porn. It's literary kidnap and rape. Despite being asked not to write about her anymore, he continues to do so, pulling her out of her life more and more and more, to the point that she cannot even track what real is anymore. So, I felt disturbed reading this story. I hated him for valuing his creative output more than her life autonomy. I hated him for thinking that his imagination was more worthy than her LIFE. I felt so gut-punched for her, knowing that at any second of any day, he could have a new idea and she'd be ripped out of her existence again to live out one of his fantasies. It was... disturbing. But it was also interesting, because of the nature of creation of art, and perhaps his skill was such that what he wrote BECAME real, and because he wrote her, her reality became his story. But still... dick move, dude. She asked you to stop. Anyway, at the end, she asks him to not end the story - to let her live within it, and finally have peace, even though she knows that it means living out his story for the rest of her existence (and who knows how long that is or could be...). Which is also disturbing, because she's giving up and letting him own her. But... it's also taking a bit of her own power back. It's not an ideal situation, but it's her choice, and if that's all the power she has left to decide her fate, then good on her for using it. (Me personally, I'd probably have to take... other measures. Because fuck THAT.) (hide spoiler)] Anyway, this wasn't one of my favorite stories, but for the nature of the implications and thought provokingness of it, it's on the runner's up list. The Rest... Meh mostly... So... Overall... some really good stories, and some really meh stories, but I'm glad that I read it... if only so it'll stop giving me the stink eye. :P

  3. 4 out of 5

    RandomAnthony

    I don’t read many anthologies. I’m not sure why anthologies exist, outside of literature classes (and who reads those anthologies, you know, for fun?) and…I can’t think of another reason. Those annual Best Short Stories of 2009 collections date quickly (exception: Best Travel Writing of whatever year. I read those, seriously) and lack continuity. So why did Gaiman and Sarrantonio bother with Stories? They don’t need the money, I assume, and I doubt the big name contributors are hurting for cash I don’t read many anthologies. I’m not sure why anthologies exist, outside of literature classes (and who reads those anthologies, you know, for fun?) and…I can’t think of another reason. Those annual Best Short Stories of 2009 collections date quickly (exception: Best Travel Writing of whatever year. I read those, seriously) and lack continuity. So why did Gaiman and Sarrantonio bother with Stories? They don’t need the money, I assume, and I doubt the big name contributors are hurting for cash, either. In the introduction Gaiman expresses frustration with genre anthologies, etc. but hits on the idea that he and his co-editor wanted to read stories that “used a lightning flash of magic as a way of showing us something we have already seen a thousand times as if we have never seen it before. Truly, we wanted it all.” So maybe Gaiman and Sarrantonio are engaging their peers in a sort of dare. Think of the editors as sending out this email: Yes. We know you’re successful authors. None of you need the money or publicity. We don’t need your stories, either, as hungrier and less-read writers would cut off body parts for their works’ inclusion. So here’s the challenge. Write an “imaginative” story as if you were still the hungry, desperate writer you were some years back. Write because you love to read. And most of all, do NOT phone one in. There’s some pressure here. You’ll be next to and read with some of your peers, and they’ll be responding to the same challenge. Raise your game. Write a good one. I’d say about 75% of the 27 stories succeed, with maybe a third turning out really well and three or four (you heard me, Joyce Carol Oates) sucking. Here are some of the highlights: • Roddy Doyle’s “Blood”, in which a suburban husband/dad develops a sudden taste for the title substance. • Walter Mosley’s “Juvenal Nyx”, in which a black vampire prowls New York City, hashing out the details of living dead among millions. • Michael Swanwick’s “Goblin Lake”, a sort of winking nod to roles different types of characters play in short stories. • Lawerence Block’s “Catch and Release”, a terrifying Jim Thompson-esque narrative of a serial killer considering the pros and cons of letting his victims live. • Stewart O’Nan’s “Land of the Lost”, a story about a sad, adrift woman trying to help with a murder investigation. • Sarrantonio’s cool but creepy tale of people with fake noses in the back of the crowd in newsprint photographs called “The Cult of the Nose”. • Kurt Anderson’s fascinating interaction between a young woman explorer and an alien lost and forgotten in Chicago in “Human Intelligence”. • Michael Moorcock’s meditative youth-to-death timeline of the interaction between aspiring writers in “Stories”. Would I have read this anthology without Gaiman’s name plastered across the cover? No. But I’m glad I read Stories. The collection runs long, at 425 pages, but more often than not carries an admirable, determined “this story will not suck” energy. The anthology’s nod to flexibility (isn’t all fiction “imaginative”?) flipsides with a lack of coherence. Anthologies don’t work like “real” books; at best these short stories surge with brief pulses of literary merit before the reader recalibrates for the next of the 27. But that’s ok, really, as all I wanted from Stories was a few hours of gratification in an air conditioned room or at the side of a little league baseball game. I liked Stories and understand, I think, this book’s purpose. If Gaiman and Sarrantonio’s challenge raised the contributors’ heart rates a little in the process, well, all the better.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    This was the audio version. Some of the stories were above average, most were average and a few were mediocre. My favorite was of the Irish vampire with a family trying to act like a regular guy. OVERALL GRADE: C plus.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Blood by Roddy Doyle This is an interesting take on a vampire tale. But, I have to say, maybe because I've read so many, this wasn't great. Interesting, but not great. (3 stars) Fossil Figures by Joyce Carol Oates I've heard so much about this author, that I was excited to read something by her for the first time. Maybe I expected too much. She tried writing a story about twins, where one is the evil twin. I didn't get it. Sure, I didn't like that character, but I didn't get to know or like either Blood by Roddy Doyle This is an interesting take on a vampire tale. But, I have to say, maybe because I've read so many, this wasn't great. Interesting, but not great. (3 stars) Fossil Figures by Joyce Carol Oates I've heard so much about this author, that I was excited to read something by her for the first time. Maybe I expected too much. She tried writing a story about twins, where one is the evil twin. I didn't get it. Sure, I didn't like that character, but I didn't get to know or like either twin. Very disappointing. (2 stars) Wildfire in Manhattan by Joanne Harris What a great story! I loved this and am going right away to see what else she's written! We meet Lucky, the God of Fire and he's a very likable guy...even if he is a player and a bit wild. He has a twin Brother Brennan, who's God of the Hearth. Seriously what a cast of characters. Lucky and his brother witness a murder and things just get worse form there. Very enjoyable! I couldn't put this story down! Even though my break was over, I was sneaking the book open on my desk so I could find out what happened. Read it! :) (5 stars) Parallel Lines by Tim Powers This is another interesting story of 2 sisters, Caroleen and Beevee. Unfortunately, Beevee is deceased and Caroleen, at 73 is on her own. she suddenly finds herself writing things she has no memory of writing. Could her sister be trying to speak to her? Could she possibly be trying to come back from the dead? You will have to read it to see. (4 stars) The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman This was a good story but I can't help wondering if I'm supposed to get some deeper meaning from it. That might just be me. The story is the tale of a small man on a quest to a Legendary cave where gold is supposedly there for the taking. He hires a man to be his guide, but we learn that the man isn't just some stranger. It's a very interesting tale of their journey, and how they are connected is a unique twist. But I must say that I was a bit comfused at one point when (view spoiler)[the 2 men are starting out their journey and they find themselves at this woman's cottage where they request shelter and food. The woman reminds the little man a lot of his long lost daughter, and I was sure that she would end up being that girl, but not at all. (hide spoiler)] The twist isn't that at all and isn't revealed that early either. This is definitely a good one, despite my questions. (4 stars) Unbelief by Michael Marshall Smith This was good, but I feel like I was left hanging. It almost feels unfinished. Are we supposed to believe that (view spoiler)[Santa didn't aprove of what the main character did for a living?? (hide spoiler)] Oh, well, not bad. (3 stars) The Stars Are Falling by Joe R. Lansdale I was really looking forward to reading him, cause I have heard so much about him. And I have to say, I was not disappointed! So far, this is easily one of my favorites in the book. Part story about War (WWI, I'd guess.) and part western...very well done! (5 stars) Juvenal Nyx by Walter Mosley This is my first time reading Walter Mosely and he completely deserves the reputation he has. I really liked this story! This tells the story of a young black man, very involved in politics and his community and the night he meets the mysterious Julie. The only reason I bring up the race is because that seems to be a huge factor in this story. Mosley is very clear on the fact that this was a black man and the woman he meets after a meeting of the "Amalgamation of Black Student Unions" meeting is a white woman. That's the only reason I mention it. The author puts in in your face, which is the only thing I can complain about. That said, this book was a really imaginative vampire story. I'm not sure if Mosley has ever written anything in the horror genre before, but he does it very well. (4 stars) The Knife by Richard Adams This is not necessarily a short story, in my opinion. It is just an episode in a boy's life. I found this one pretty disappointing. It could have made an interesting story, but it definitely needs to be more fleshed out. (2 stars) Weights and Measuresby Jodi Picoult This one was ok. A sad story about the loss of a child. An otherwise happy couple grieve over their daughter's death. This was an interesting take on how the mother and father handled the loss in their own way. An interesting ending, I must say, but overall this story was weak. Sorry (3 stars) Goblin Lake by Michael Swanwick This is a wonderful fairy tale type story, where a man finds out that he is merely a character in a book. He must decide whether to stay within the book or return to his old life. (5 stars) Mallon the Guru by Peter Straub This is the story of an American man, who goes to India to meet spiritual leaders. Upon the arrival of himself and his guide to a small village, a carrion crow falls from the sky and drops to the ground dead at their feet. The villagers take this as some sort of sign and urge them to a small hut where an infant lays dying. Surprisingly, the infant returns to life after the American man touches his forehead. The villagers once again urge the two men on to meet the local jogi, who for some reason is afraid of the American and asks him to leave. What does this mean? I'm not sure, but this story definitely makes you think. (3 stars) Catch and Release by lawrence Block I liked this story alot. It puts you in the mind of a serial rapist/murderer and how they see their own life and craft, if you will. I enjoyed the way Block told the story and made it work. This is very well done! I can't believe that I haven't read the author before. (4 stars) Polka Dots and Moonbeams by Jeffrey Ford This story had a great feel to it. It felt like it took place in the 20's where "cutting a rug" is what a guy did w/ his favorite gal on a saturday nite. There was alot I didn't understand with this story, but overall I liked it and the picture it painted. The ending left me with a "What the?" feeling as well. But maybe that is a good thing? (4 stars) Loser by Chuck Palahniuk I have to admit this story just added to my already negative feelings about this author. I am not a fan, but that being said, I went into this story with an open mind. Only to feel like the time spent reading this story was an incredible waste of my time! This tells the story of a group of kids from a fraternity, who don tee shirts w/ the frats name on it, take acid and go to a taping of The Price is Right. So we get the ramblings of the main character as they trip throughout the episode. I think I'm done trying to like this author!(1 star - and only because I don't think you can give zero stars without it looking like you forgot to rate it.) Samantha's Diary by Diane Wynne Jones This story started out really well and I was intrigued. This story takes place 220 years in the future. We meet a young independent woman, with an exciting job in fashion, and a character of a mother who is always getting remarried and trying to hook the main character up. After a christmas party at her mothers, she starts receiving pear trees and birds...partridges, hens, etc. Every day, something arrives, and she learns that she has a secret admirer, who is sending her all the items listed in the "old" song, 12 Days of Christmas. She is at her wits end, she has birds everywhere taking over her apartment and patio and then cows and trampolines. I was really enjoying this story, until the ending....and I still don't know what to make of it. What happened???? Does someone know? The story died a quick sudden death over a cliff with no warning....or ending! (1 star) Land of the Lost by Stewart O'Nan Was I possibly in a bad state of mind when I read the last few stories? Coincidence? Anyway, this story is about a single mother, who after her son's grow up and leave to make lives of her own, finds an unusual hobby. (Is hobby the right word?) She becomes obsessed with a case of a missing child in her area. She studies the maps and with clues released by the police and the local news, she goes on a mission to find the child. Her son's are worried about her and how much this is taking from her life. Is she crazy? Or just a bored and lonely mother dealing with her "empty nest"? This was pretty decent, better than the last few, but not great. (2 stars) Leif in the Wind by Gene Wolfe This was another disappointing story. I am not sure if this is a futuristic story, but it takes place far in space on an expedition that has been successful and the remaining crew (3 have died during this expedition, though, we don't have much information regarding this.) are preparing to return home. The story begins with a crewman named Leif, who is outside and won't come inside the ship, despite calling and cajoling from the others. He keeps talking about the beautiful birds that are nesting in him. Well, the rest of the crew swear he's crazy and bring him inside. I'm a little confused by this, but somehow his actions have jeopardized their mission and there is talk of killing him, since the journey home is 2 years and how would they go about imprisoning him for that long? Then birds are seen in the ship. Alien lifeforms that Leif spoke about from the beginning. A solution is found, but I was still confused. Definitely not much better than the last few stories. (2 stories) Unwell by Carolyn Parkhurst This is the story of 2 sisters, Yvonne and Arlette. Yvonne is quiet, shy and a your stereotypical mousy librarian. Arlette is outspoken and always gets what she wants! At any cost! Even at the expense of her sister's happiness? You tell me. I don't want to give too much away about this story, because I thought as more and more is uncovered is what makes this story more interesting. Well done! (5 stars) A Life In Fiction by Kat Howard What a fun concept! This story is about a young woman, who's boyfriend is writer. Sounds good, huh? Not really. Unfortunately, the problem with that is that whenever he uses her as a muse in his writing, she disappears from her regular life into his story for sometimes days or weeks at a time! She starts losing her identity and even forgetting who she really is? What's her favorite color? She gets desperate! You won't believe how this ends! Loved this! (5 stars) Let The Past Begin by Jonathan Carroll What a strange and confusing story this was! This is the story of Ava, who dated a man named Eamon for a few weeks and is now dating a new guy. She is pregnant, but doesn't know who the father is, so they await the results of the paternity test. While they wait, she tells her boyfriend about her recent trip to Azerbajian. She meets a woman named Lamiya (which means educated). Lamiya is sitting beside a bassinet, wth her hand inside. It appears she has here hand on a baby to calm it down. She tells Ava that her baby is a "silent child", half alive and half dead. The baby is an oracle. You can ask 2 questions regarding the future. Ava is told she is cursed. Huh? Is here baby the next "silent child"? Lets just say this story is Wierd! (With a capital "W") (2 stars) The Therapist by Jeffery Deaver This is the story of Martin Kobel, who is a behavioral therapist and he takes his profession very seriously. He meets a young woman, who is a teacher. Immediately he is concerned. He can tell she has a "meme", which is a negative energy inside her. That can be dangerous and he worries about her students as well as her young son. He is certain he can help her. He investigates and finds out where she lives, where she works and stages a "concidental" 2nd meeting. Instead of taking her up on his offer of help, she threatens to call the police and leaves. Martin is committed to helping and possibly saving her students and son, even if he can't help her directly. Just how much is Martin willing to commit to all this? OMG! Just wait till you see! (5 stars) Parallel Lines by Tim Powers This is another story of 2 sisters, Caroleen and Beevee. Unforunately Beevee is deceased and Caroleen is alone at 73. One day she finds herself writing things that she can't remember writing. Could her sister possibly be trying to communicate with her? Or possibly trying to come back to life? You'll see...(4 stars) The Cult of the Nose by Al Sarrantonio Talk about confused. The main character finds that there exists a Cult of the Nose. It's mentioned for ages in literature and can be found going way back in history in pictures. Actual people w/ fake noses on their face. And he is commited to finding this cult. Did I mention how confused I am with this story??? (1 star) Human Intelligence by Kurt This was a really good story! In my opinion it was very reminiscent of Richard Matheson's science fiction. This is the story.about an old man named Nicholas, who has a big secret. One that he is tired of keeping. He even is very happy when a young woman named Nancy uncovers it. This story is told in such wondersational tone as Nicholas tells his story as crazy as it sounds. (5 stars) Stories by Michael Moorcock This story was such a disappointment. I'm still lost with all that was going in. Here you meet a group of writers and their writing for different journals. This story covers their professional lives, love lives, sex lives, their friendsips, etc. But I can't make myself give a damn. (1 star) The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bell Bellerophon by Elizabeth Hand I can't say touch about this story. I couldn't evenlet myself to finish it! (1 star) >The Devil on the Staircase by Joe Hill Another great story by Joe Hill. Between the feel of a folktale and strange layout of the prose, this little story proves it is more than just a simple short story. (4 stars)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)

    How to review this collection.....Hmm.. One one level, for a reader who loves short stories (as I do), for the pure essence of the medium of storytelling, this is an excellent collection. There is no question that all the writers here know their craft, and very well. I had the pleasure of being introduced to many new authors I had never read, and none of the stories were boring. I know I will definitely seek out some of these new authors to read more of their stories. Others, I'm not so sure abou How to review this collection.....Hmm.. One one level, for a reader who loves short stories (as I do), for the pure essence of the medium of storytelling, this is an excellent collection. There is no question that all the writers here know their craft, and very well. I had the pleasure of being introduced to many new authors I had never read, and none of the stories were boring. I know I will definitely seek out some of these new authors to read more of their stories. Others, I'm not so sure about. Not because of a lack of ability, but I'm not sure that they write the kind of stories I like to read, if the content here indeed represents their output. It's completely possible that the pieces here are a departure. I suppose that like strangers who travel down a similar path (the world of short story literature), we might meet again. As Neil Gaiman intimated in his introduction, most of these stories caught me, and had me on the line, waiting for what happens next. Like Mr. Gaiman, that is a huge draw when I read a story. If I don't care about what happens next, I don't even bother finishing the story. For pretty much all of these stories, even the ones I didn't care for, I did keep listening to find out...what happens next. I wanted to know! On another level, I think that if a reader picks this collection up to read fantasy/science fiction/speculative fiction and that alone, they will be disappointed. Certainly, there was a good amount of those things on offer. There were also stories that I would place firmly in the literary fiction arena. Which certainly is not a bad thing if that is your sort of reading. And if you like a literary touch to your speculative fiction reading, you will probably be a happy camper. Myself, I don't care much for the genre or its conventions, so I felt a bit like I had gone into a movie theater for a science fiction 'popcorn' movie and ended up watching an IFC-style drama about all the depressing aspects of life that I don't need to be reminded about. Not to say that the latter movie isn't well done and interesting, but certainly not what I wanted to watch, or read, in this case. So, this one is a bit of the good and bad. I loved a few of the stories. I liked more still. Others I didn't care for or I was ambivalent about. There was one with a woman who was being stalked by an admirer who gifted her in the days around Christmas in the manner of the wonderful carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Take a moment, if you will, to consider how messed up that could be in execution. Yeah. I was bad, and it was highly hilarious and entertaining. That was by far my favorite story. This was by one of my favorite fantasy authors since I was a young girl, Diana Wynne Jones, who passed away this year, and will be mourned by this reader and many others. If that was her last story, I would raise my glass in toast to her. The Joanne Harris story was about Norse Gods in modern NYC, and it was funny and entertaining. Yeah, the Norse mythology part hooked me, but the wit kept me listening intently. The Jodi Picoult story, "Weights and Measures," had me sobbing hard and blowing my nose as I drove and listened. I think I'll avoid her books. I don't like going to that emotional place if I don't have to. But she can write. The most disturbing story was by Lawrence Block. It was called, "Catch and Release" and it was about a serial killer who had developed a habit of doing exactly that, except not with fish, and not all the time. It was....chilling, to say the least. Another story that I found very well-written but I found very unsettling and very sad was "The Stars are Falling," by Joe R. Lansdale. I've been wanting to read him for a while, and he's definitely a talented writer. The story itself was incredibly sad, but the imagery stuck with me. The sign of a good short story. There were others, lots of others, and I could probably talk about each one, but I won't dither here. Narrator Comments: I think the narrators were very good. There was one man who I felt sounded a little too much like the PBS documentary narrators for my tastes. It took me out of the story because it was too monotone, and a bit too detached. The other narrators I liked very much. Final Thoughts: My rating is an emotional one (that's how I roll, you see). I gave it three stars because it didn't quite give me what I wanted. That's on me, not the writers here. However, for the reader who has a serious love of the short story, and who wants to bask in that medium for many hours, or however long one wants to spend reading through an anthology, regardless of the genre and subject matter, I think this is a good collection to reach for. In that sense, it's probably more of a four star collection. So I recommend this one with reservations...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    I've read most of Elizabeth Hand’s work, and I usually almost love it - but with reservations. No reservations here. This is a beautiful, mysterious, weird and wonderful story. If you like archives, history, the early days of flight and innovation... check it out. I've read most of Elizabeth Hand’s work, and I usually almost love it - but with reservations. No reservations here. This is a beautiful, mysterious, weird and wonderful story. If you like archives, history, the early days of flight and innovation... check it out.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Airiz

    “AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED?—four words that children ask, when you pause, telling them a story. The four words you hear at the end of a chapter. The four words, spoken or unspoken, that show you, a storyteller, that people care. The joy of fiction, for some of us, is the joy of imagination, set free from the world and able to imagine.” These are literary rock star Neil Gaiman’s words that graced the first pages of Stories: All-New Tales, a compendium of twenty-seven bite-sized fiction by an eclectic “AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED?—four words that children ask, when you pause, telling them a story. The four words you hear at the end of a chapter. The four words, spoken or unspoken, that show you, a storyteller, that people care. The joy of fiction, for some of us, is the joy of imagination, set free from the world and able to imagine.” These are literary rock star Neil Gaiman’s words that graced the first pages of Stories: All-New Tales, a compendium of twenty-seven bite-sized fiction by an eclectic set of tale-spinners and storytellers. Edited by master anthologist Al Sarrantonio and Gaiman himself, the stories comprising this collection do not fall under any umbrella genre; they’re simply written to celebrate good storytelling. While most of the stories did succeed in making me go “I want to know what happens next!”, some just lacked the necessary ‘oil’ to propel themselves up to the five-star rung of my rating ladder. It’s a mixed bag—just like most anthologies—but as a whole I enjoyed it very much. Most of the contributors are immensely popular; I’ve heard positive things about them even if I haven’t read their works. This anthology then provided some sort of tasters for me, and after I turned the last page I have a new list of authors to keep tabs on. Here are mini-reviews for my favorites and runner-ups from the collection, in no particular order: • Fossil Figures by Joyce Carol Oates. A story that reads like a real parable, this is about the fates of twins who are each other’s yin and yang even when they’re still inside their mother’s womb. It’s the epitome of picturesque writing and rather peculiar but effective dialogues. I sort of expected a ‘bang!’ at the end, but the imagery that closed it is haunting enough to stay with the readers. •Wildfire in Manhattan by Joanne Harris. Basically it is a whimsical tale that reads like a twee descendant of Gaiman’s American Gods. The tale is set in the modern times where Norse deities are living among ordinary humans after the Ragnarok, working as restaurant owners, rock stars, and the like. But even with mortal facades, the gods are not safe from their nemeses. I enjoyed this one. The ex-trickster god Lucky/Loki is practically humor-on-legs that reading from his POV is such a fun experience, but the recycled premise and execution deducted a couple of stars from my rating. Who can blame me? I’ve seen this kind of thing with a better caliber (wiggles eyebrows at Gaiman). •The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman. It is a fairytale with beguiling imagery and dark undertones reminiscent of Brothers Grimm’s works. The spotlight bounces from a dwarf’s search of a cave allegedly filled with gold to a revenge story involving a missing daughter. Magnificent as usual, this tale is a fine example of Gaiman’s magic with words. I liked how even the smallest of descriptions can tell a story on their own. Call me predictable, but this gem is one of the few in this collection that I loved. •Weights and Measures by Jodi Picoult. This is a poignant account about a married couple emotionally and physically suffering in the wake of their daughter’s death. Nothing much happened, but damn if the heartbreaking lines and scenes didn’t find a chink in my emotional armor and widened the damage to a bigger fault. I will try reading Picoult’s longer works, I guess. •A Life in Fictions by Kat Howard. This is an extremely inventive tale about a young woman who finds herself sucked into a story—literally—whenever her boyfriend writes fiction, with her as the muse. It may be flattering at first, but she realizes she can’t return from a story truly unscathed. It’s very quirky and I enjoyed it for the most part. •Catch and Release by Lawrence Block. This is a tale about a serial killer who has a peculiar habit of catching and releasing his victims, rendering himself a ‘vegetarian’ criminal…but not really. It’s a thrilling and creepy ride and it can keep you on the edge of your seat. •The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon by Elizabeth Hand. One of the longest in the anthology, this is an affecting story about three men who attempt to create a present-of-sorts for a dying friend, who has a penchant for things concerning aircrafts and their histories. I guess the piece’s length has something to do with the characters becoming easier to love page by page. In general it’s a touching story. •The Therapist by Jeffrey Deaver. Divided into mini-chapters, this story is about a behavioral specialist who saves people—in his unconventional way—from ‘neme’, a virus-like entity that purportedly possesses a person and causes its host to relinquish emotional control. It’s intriguing and very engrossing, especially the courtroom scenes. There’s a little science fiction feel to it at first, what with the long but good explanations of ‘neme’ that engulfed almost the first mini-chap. I’m commending this for cleverly toying not only with the psyches of the characters but also of the readers. •The Cult of the Nose by Al Sarrantonio. A tale about a man’s obsession over a cult whose members appear in scenes of carnage and ruin. I find it tedious at first, but a second reading rewards me with a realization that the man’s state of mind is better explored with the writing style. There’s a wee shock of a twist at the end. Now that I think of it, it is a tad similar with The Therapist. •The Devil on the Staircase by Joe Hill. Amazingly written both form-wise and content-wise, this story centers on an Italian boy who meets the spawn of Lucifer at the bottom of the staircase of his hometown after committing a crime. I wish to read more works in the same vein soon, if ever Hill has more of them. •Samantha’s Diary by Dianna Wynne Jones. The lightest piece among the bunch, this is a rather cute story with shades of science fiction and backboned by the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. I find myself chuckling while reading it, even if most of the scenes are pretty predictable. •Leif in the Wind by Gene Wolfe. This is perhaps one of the best speculative shorts in the compendium, zeroing in on the thirty-year, six-man space mission to an alien planet. Its ricocheting atmosphere of desperation and hope, reality and illusion, is a great plot device to build such a clever piece of science fiction. The duds (most of which are not mentioned here) are not downright bad—they are either run-of-the-mill or they just failed to make me say the first four words of this review. Indeed, Stories: All New Tales is a treasure box of gems with a few stray rocks in it, but overall I loved it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    Blood by Roddy Doyle tells the story of a middle aged, married with kids man, who wakes up one day with a thirst for blood. I like this take on vampirism and I'll definitely read more from Doyle. (4 stars) Fossil Figures by Joyce Carol Oates - two very different twins live their life separately from each other. Creepy, creepy, creepy. (3 stars) The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... (3 stars) Unbelief by Michael Marshall Smith - a gun for Blood by Roddy Doyle tells the story of a middle aged, married with kids man, who wakes up one day with a thirst for blood. I like this take on vampirism and I'll definitely read more from Doyle. (4 stars) Fossil Figures by Joyce Carol Oates - two very different twins live their life separately from each other. Creepy, creepy, creepy. (3 stars) The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... (3 stars) Unbelief by Michael Marshall Smith - a gun for hire talks to his mark (2 stars) The Stars Are Falling by Joe R. Lansdale - Deel Arrowsmith, a soldier who returns home to Texas from the Great War, to find a wife who thought he must have died, a son who’s never really known him. The story shows some flashes from the past (wartime expereinces), but mostly we focus on Deel's efforts to reintegrate into the life he left behind. I like how the relationship between Deel and Mary Lu is so ambiguous. (4 stars) Wildfire in Manhattan by Joanne Harris - Lukas Wilde, a Norse god of fire, who has been living a quiet life in New York, retired from life both as a god and from his more recent career as the lead singer of a rock band. When he bumps into his twin brother one day, the pair become reacquainted with an enemy. (3 stars) Juvenal Nyx by Walter Mosley - a student radical is seduced by a woman who turns him into something like a vampire, sets himself up as a professional ‘problem solver’ and takes on a rather mysterious client. It's a little too long, but it's a good crime/fantasy fiction short story. (2 stars) The Knife by Richard Adams - a bullied Stafford student finds a knife which can be used to fulfill his revenge fantasy. (3 stars) Weights and Measures by Jodi Picoult - a couple deal with the aftermath of their daughter's death; heartbreak and a little fantasy. (4 stars) Goblin Lake by Michael Swanwick - a character needs to choose between fiction and reality (3 stars) Mallon the Guru by Peter Straub - a young guru discovers that his genuine powers of healing may not be what he thinks they are. It's part of A Dark Matter. (2 stars) Catch and Release by Lawrence Block - a catch-and-release fisherman prefers not to catch fish, but women. A predator playing with morality and savoring anticipation. Creepy and filled with tension. (3 stars) Polka Dots and Moonbeams by Jeffrey Ford - a couple on an evening out, are offered a job to kill someone. I like the author's sense of humor so I'll read some of his other books. (3 stars) Loser by Chuck Palahniuk - a fratboy goes to a recording of The Price Is Right, taken some acid – and is invited to participate. The ending was unexpected. (3 stars) Samantha's Diary by Diane Wynne Jones - this story was looney (3 stars) Land of the Lost by Stewart O'Nan - A woman becomes fixated on finding the burried body of a murder victim (2 stars) Leif in the Wind by Gene Wolfe - three surviving members of a six-person crew sent to explore an alien planet (2 stars) Unwell by Carolyn Parkhurst - Arlette, an elderly woman who has been jealous of her sister Yvonne, discovers a secret about Yvonne's fiance. (3 stars) A Life In Fiction by Kat Howard - a woman who finds herself being literally written into her boyfriend's fiction; this is one of my favorite stories in this collection; I'll read more from Kat Howard (4 stars) Let The Past Begin by Jonathan Carroll - a tale about a curse and a child whose paternity has yet to be determined (3 stars) The Therapist by Jeffery Deaver - Martin Kobel is a behavioural therapist who meets a school teacher whose behaviour is cause for concern. (3 stars) Parallel Lines by Tim Powers - Caroleen's twin sister starts writting messsages to her from beyond the dead through her right hand. She asks to be invited in and replace her. (3 stars) The Cult of the Nose by Al Sarrantonio - a century long, historical conspiracy involving people who wear ‘the Nose’ (2 stars) Human Intelligence by Kurt Andersen - a mysterious station is discovered on the Artic. A researcher and an alien are soon to meet. (3 stars) Stories by Michael Moorcock - a magazine editor reflecting on his friendship with a writer named Rex Fisch, who has recently committed suicide (4 stars) The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bell Bellerophon by Elizabeth Hand - three friends reunite in order to re-create a 1901 plane crash. Heartwarming (3 stars) The Devil on the Staircase by Joe Hill - a boy who lives in Italy, in a mountain village accessible only by a network of staircases cut into the cliffs. The boy is in love with his cousin, Lithodora, and one day kills her lover in the heat of the moment. He then encounters a devil. (3 stars)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    I got a signed copy of this book at a speaking engagement Neil Gaiman did at Columbia Teachers College with the following authors from the book: Kurt Andersen, Lawrence Block, Jeffrey Ford, Joe Hill, Kat Howard and Walter Mosley. I read a number of the stories, which I will comment on briefly below (more to help me keep track of which I've read and liked, than for the review). 'The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains', by Neil Gaiman: Oh, Neil Gaiman, how I love everything you write. I only wish I got a signed copy of this book at a speaking engagement Neil Gaiman did at Columbia Teachers College with the following authors from the book: Kurt Andersen, Lawrence Block, Jeffrey Ford, Joe Hill, Kat Howard and Walter Mosley. I read a number of the stories, which I will comment on briefly below (more to help me keep track of which I've read and liked, than for the review). 'The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains', by Neil Gaiman: Oh, Neil Gaiman, how I love everything you write. I only wish this imaginative short story was fleshed out into a complete novel. Sigh. 'Juvenal Nyx', by Walter Mosley: Despite enjoying hearing him speak, and being interesting in the premise (vampires), this story was my least favorite of the selections I read. 'The Knife', by Richard Adams: This story was very short and lacked punch. The "twist" in the last paragraph, where the narrative voice changes, left a lot to be desired. 'Goblin Lake', by Michael Swanwick: Definitely one of the better stories I read in this volume -- on par with the Neil Gaiman story. 'Catch and Release', by Lawrence Block: An interesting story from the point-of-view of a serial killer. 'Loser', by Chuck Palaniuk: Another really interesting short story, one that could have only come from the twisted mind of Chuck Palaniuk. I love how he makes it so clear that the game show in question is "The Price is Right" without ever mentioning it by name. 'A Life in Fictions', by Kat Howard: An interesting premise that seemed to get bogged down by the writer paying more attention to the language than the story. 'The Therapist', by Jeffrey Deaver Another of my favorites from this collection -- part first person serial-killer crime diary, part third-person court-room drama. 'Parallel Lines', by Tim Powers Interesting but ultimately uninspiring, I was kind of expecting more from Tim Powers. 'Human Intelligence', by Kurt Anderson: Another one of my favorite stories in this collection. Very imaginative.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shel

    A wonderfully eclectic collection of short stories. Neil Gaiman's introduction was thoughtful and witty, as always. Favorite stories- Wildfire in Manhattan, by Joanne Harris: a light-hearted tale of the old Norse Gods hanging out in New York The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, by Neil Gaiman: a tale of seeking, finding, and revenge Goblin Lake, by Michael Swanwick: would you trade a pleasant existence in fiction for the depth and hardship of real life? Samantha's Diary, by Diana Wynne Jones: A wonderfully eclectic collection of short stories. Neil Gaiman's introduction was thoughtful and witty, as always. Favorite stories- Wildfire in Manhattan, by Joanne Harris: a light-hearted tale of the old Norse Gods hanging out in New York The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, by Neil Gaiman: a tale of seeking, finding, and revenge Goblin Lake, by Michael Swanwick: would you trade a pleasant existence in fiction for the depth and hardship of real life? Samantha's Diary, by Diana Wynne Jones: imagining what it would really be like if your true love gave you all those gifts on the twelve days of Christmas. Silly, but fun! Leif in the Wind, by Gene Wolfe: a first contact story The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon, by Elizabeth Hand: this one's hard to describe, but I loved it. The Devil on the Staircase, by Joe Hill: probably my favorite of the bunch. Everyone has their price. Least favorite stories: Unwell, by Carolyn Parkhurst: jealousy between sisters gone awry. Meh. The Therapist, by Jeffrey Deaver: I just found the premise stupid. I've read some of Deaver's other short stories and found them all similar - mediocre writing with improbable plot twists. Stories, by Michael Moorcock: I wanted to like this one, but it bored me and I ended up skimming it. The rest were all in the middle; interesting and I'm glad I read them. Overall, the good far outweighed the bad in this collection. Disclaimer: I won a copy of this in a giveaway on another website.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I was looking forward to this as I'm a big Neil Gaiman fan and a lot of the included authors come well recommended. However I was disappointed in the end result. The theme behind the collection is supposed to be "...and what happened next?". For most of the stories my reaction was "...and who cares?". Mostly the stories were boring and never really engaged me enough that I just had to keep reading and wanting to know more. This isn't to say there weren't some gems in amongst the manure. The stand I was looking forward to this as I'm a big Neil Gaiman fan and a lot of the included authors come well recommended. However I was disappointed in the end result. The theme behind the collection is supposed to be "...and what happened next?". For most of the stories my reaction was "...and who cares?". Mostly the stories were boring and never really engaged me enough that I just had to keep reading and wanting to know more. This isn't to say there weren't some gems in amongst the manure. The stand-outs for me were the short stories by Joanne Harris, Neil Gaiman, Joe R. Lansdale, Michael Swanick, Lawrence Block, Diana Wynne Jones, Jeffrey Deaver, Al Sarrantonio and Elizabeth Hand. So that's a third of the short stories. I'd say another third were ok and the final third I disliked. I know the odds are good that I'll never like every story in a short story collection, especially with so many different authors and styles, but I was hoping for more than a third. I'd recommend some of the stories but I can't recommend the whole book just to read them.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Stories, more hit than miss, is a worthy anthology for Gaiman fans, and one that reaches beyond his normal fare to reflect a fascinating diversity of talent. Kudos to Gaiman and Sarrantonio for putting this together. Check out my individual mini-summary-reviews below to get a better idea of where the juicy bits lie. True Rating, based on mean short story score: 3.6 Individual Story Reviews and Breakdown: (some light spoilers) 1. 'Blood' -- Roddy Doyle 3.5 A short, kind of gratuitous fun story of Stories, more hit than miss, is a worthy anthology for Gaiman fans, and one that reaches beyond his normal fare to reflect a fascinating diversity of talent. Kudos to Gaiman and Sarrantonio for putting this together. Check out my individual mini-summary-reviews below to get a better idea of where the juicy bits lie. True Rating, based on mean short story score: 3.6 Individual Story Reviews and Breakdown: (some light spoilers) 1. 'Blood' -- Roddy Doyle 3.5 A short, kind of gratuitous fun story of a man ravenous for blood. He changes rapidly, into a bizarre, suburban sort of vampire who devours raw meat fresh from the grocery store, and eventually goes as far as to attack a living thing to meet his need. 2. 'Fossil Figures' -- Joyce Carol Oates 4.3 An initially conventional, finally detailed, relentless and powerful tale of two brothers, one of whom is a 'demon.' An epic in short story format with a nice ending. Favourite Quote: "In retreat now returning to his childhood home he had shunned for years. The left-behind, broke-backed younger brother who'd been living alone since their mother's death, now many years ago. As a young man he'd never considered times as anything other than a current to bear him aloft, propel him into his future, now he understood that time is a rising tide, implacable inexorable unstoppable rising tide, now at the ankles, now the knees, rising to the thighs, to the groin and the torso and to the chin, ever rising, a dark water of utter mystery propelling us forward not into the future but into infinity, which is oblivion." - Pages 26-27 3. 'Wildfire in Manhattan' -- Joanne Harris 3.6 A decent tale, albeit one copying or paying homage (probably the latter considering the editor) to Neil Gaiman's work, particularly American Gods. Old Gods living in New York for some reason face all-consuming agents of chaos in a sort of desperate last stand. It really feels like the introduction to a larger work. 4. 'The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains' -- Neil Gaiman 3.7 Gaiman's Scottish tale has an awkward start that's hard to take seriously. I'm undecided if it's a hokey story or not, but it does seem to evolve into the stoic Scottish Highlands quest of a 'small man,' and it incorporates some of Gaiman's trademark fantasy, myth and legend. 5. 'Unbelief' -- Michael Marshall Smith 3.6 A very important man is murdered by a hitman with a personal grudge. Short-short. 6. 'The Stars are Falling' -- Joe R. Lansdale 4.5 A Texas man returns home after WWI to find that much as changed, and those who loved him have moved on. A dark, disturbing tale of the horrors of humanity and war, of the coldness of directed mass-murder and revenge. 7. 'Juvenal Nyx' -- Walter Mosley 4.3 A positive, peaceful and sexy vampire tale featuring a 1970s Black Power Activist and a mysterious Romanian woman. It features vampires who feast on blood, soul, thoughts and emotions, and the main character helps people and is kind of a hero. Refreshing. I wish it was longer. 8. 'The Knife' -- Richard Adams 2.4 A very short story. A college boy finds a way to exact revenge on a school bully. Meh. 9. 'Weights and Measures' -- Jodi Picoult 3.6 A rough and heavy story about parents losing their young daughter. The father shrinks and shrinks to become childlike, while the mother grows and grows to become a giant, with various levels of metaphor involved. It's a strange mix of boring middle class writing with brand names aplenty and some sweet lines, eg "Staring at the sun as it shamefully scuttled off the horizon." I find it most valuable for its vision of a couple losing a child and the hell that transpires therein. 10. 'Goblin Lake' -- Michael Swanwick 3.3 This story breaks the fourth wall and tries to do too much, though it is a nice adventure and reflection on reality vs fantasy. Pretty The Matrix. 11. 'Mallon the Guru' -- Peter Straub 2.1 I don't get it? I don't like the writing style, and it's extremely weird, though neatish... 12. 'Catch and Release' -- Lawrence Block 4.2 The unique, twisted, creepy story of a 'reformed' serial killer with a taste for hitchhikers. 13. 'Polka Dots and Moonbeams' -- Jeffrey Ford 3.3 An alternate 1920s or 1940s-style Casablanca or something, happening in another world, dimension or dream, or something. I don't quite get it, but it's interesting. 14. 'Loser' -- Chuck Palahniuk 4.5 A fraternity brother does acid with his frat and goes on 'The Price is Right', as described in lucid and horrifying detail by Palahniuk. Fantastic. 15. 'Samantha's Diary' -- Diana Wynne Jones 2.4 A woman in a materialistic future is plagued by the Twelve Days of Christmas. She keeps getting partridges in pear trees and everything that happens in Twelve Days happens to ignorant little her. Initially funny, quickly becomes gimicky and boring. 16. 'Land of the Lost' -- Stewart O'Nan 2.6 The simple, straight-forward story of a divorced, empty-nest mother searching for the body of a murdered girl. Kind of dull. 17. 'Leif in the Wind' -- Gene Wolfe 3.8 A science team on a 30 year round-trip space mission encounter madness, base desires, and space birds. Pretty traditional sci-fi thriller, pretty good stuff. 18. 'Unwell' -- Carolyn Parkhurst 4.6 An evil elderly woman tells the story of her life-long relations with her quiet, gentle sister. She rambles about how she's basically been a horrible, controlling, selfish *blank* for years. This is something I may never have read if it hadn't been bundled in a dark sci-fi/fantasy package. If you read this kind of thing all the time, you might not like it as much. 19. 'A Life in Fictions' -- Kat Howard 3.2 A woman keeps getting written into her (now ex) boyfriend's stories, and may very well be becoming a part of them for realz. 20. 'Let the Past Begin' -- Jonathan Carroll 4.5 The story of Eamon Reilly, ex-boyfriend of the narrator's adrenaline-junkie, dynamic, war-reporter girlfriend. There's a fortune-teller and a possible curse. Very well-written, despite being a bit of a stretch. 21. 'The Therapist' -- Jeffery Deaver 4.7 A cynical character-study of a Behavioural-Therapist -- with a twist -- well, several twists. (view spoiler)[nemes, court drama. (hide spoiler)] Several stories for the price of one, all in a brilliant and creative package. 22. 'Parallel Lines' -- Tim Powers 3.5 An elderly sister receives messages from her recently deceased twin. Possibly evil messages. Or does she? 23. 'The Cult of the Nose' -- Al Sarrantino 2.6 A man investigates a mysterious nose cult involving people throughout history wearing fake noses, with a twist. Didn't quite work for me. 24. 'Human Intelligence' -- Kurt Andersen 4.2 An undercover agent (view spoiler)[alien (hide spoiler)] reflects on his time on earth, before a shocking discovery by an inquisitive scientist with commonalities (view spoiler)[his arctic base (hide spoiler)] changes his life, and the world, forever. 25. 'Stories' -- Michael Moorcock 4.2 Rex Fisch, an accomplished writer, shoots himself in a local library, thereby denying the world his friends' collective memory and story, which the narrator then relates to the reader via a bio/auto-bio rambling format. It's a fast and convoluted esoteric literary historical fiction piece, focusing on writers and 'the industry'. A bit la-di-da, but great overall and well-wrapped. Notable quotable: "I knew of course that our little revolution would collapse rapidly once we achieved what we hoped for and our individual careers were made...People join revolutions until they get what they want as individuals, then start quarrelling over the spoils, however imaginary. I was surprised by how many of our friendships remained intact." -Page 336 26. 'The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon' -- Elizabeth Hand 3.4 I find the characters here much more sympathetic and interesting than the main plot. The most interesting to me is Robbie, a lonely, alcoholic single dad who never got over his young wife's death from breast cancer. He fell out of his nice career into a warehouse job and raised a slacker teenage pothead son. One day, he sets out with Emery, a local celebrity/friend and Leonard, a museum display designer, to do something amazing for a mutual acquaintance also dying of breast cancer. Unfortunately, the link between Robbie and this friend is never really explored, and the plot becomes slow and dull, with a disappointing climax and ending. 27. 'The Devil on the Staircase' -- Joe Hill 3.6 The story of a man who lives on a mountain of staircases and cliffs in Italy. The story follows the man on his late 1800s ascents and descents, up until the early 1900s, and features a forbidden hellish path into Gaiman-style fantasy, murder, and a poetic, artsy-style where the text is written in staircase fashion. The story ends with a take on powerful, evil men, through the magic of a singing bird and lies. Not amazing, but not too shabby there, Stephen King Jr.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Miss Bookiverse

    3.5 overall Introduction: Just Four Words by Neil Gaiman ★★★★★ It might seem weird to rate the introduction but Neil Gaiman wrote such an inspiring one that I can't help myself. It made me very excited for the upcoming stories. Blood by Roddy Doyle ★★★★☆ Fun and interesting but I'm not sure what to do with that open (?) ending. Fossil-Figures by Joyce Carol Oates ★★★★★ This story about twin brothers was really creepy. Loved the writing in this, especially in the beginning. The audiobook narrator did a 3.5 overall Introduction: Just Four Words by Neil Gaiman ★★★★★ It might seem weird to rate the introduction but Neil Gaiman wrote such an inspiring one that I can't help myself. It made me very excited for the upcoming stories. Blood by Roddy Doyle ★★★★☆ Fun and interesting but I'm not sure what to do with that open (?) ending. Fossil-Figures by Joyce Carol Oates ★★★★★ This story about twin brothers was really creepy. Loved the writing in this, especially in the beginning. The audiobook narrator did a fantastic job reading it out loud. Wildfire in Manhatten by Joanne Harris ★★★★☆ This was fun! I like this old-Gods-as-rockstars trope, reminded me of Neil Gaiman. The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman ★★★★☆ Such a tight, misty atmosphere. Felt like a proper folk tale. I had to listen to it again though, to grasp the whole plot :P Unbelief by Michael Marshall Smith ★★★★☆ I had to relisten to this, too, because you really gotta pay attention to some of the details. Loved the idea but I'm not sure how to understand the ending: (view spoiler)[The narrator was Death (?) and killed Santa Clause, so why was his stocking empty and not his wife's or his son's? Was it all his wife who was angry at him for killing Santa, or was Santa not dead after all and didn't fill Death's stockings because he was naughty? (hide spoiler)] The Stars are Falling by Joe R. Lansdale ★★★★★ A man returns home from the war to his wife and a son he had never met and tries to (re)connect with both. Loved this, very raw and with a slowly rising sense of unease and quite a dramatic finale. Juvenal Nyx by Walter Mosley ☆☆☆☆☆ skipped this one, couldn't get into it The Knife by Richard Adams ★★★★☆ Very short and effective. About a boy who is bullied and finds a knife one day. Weights and Measures by Jodi Picoult ★★★★☆ I'm not a big fan of Picoult's writing style, it's often too on the nose for me and feels a little cringe-worthy but the story itself was really good. It deals with a married couple losing their only child and how this loss affects them, both emotionally and physically. Goblin Lake by Michael Swanwick ★★★★☆ This one really changed gears in the middle of the story, turning from some German war tale into a metafictional fairy tale. I enjoyed it, but the pronunciation of the German names could've been better :P Mallon the Guru by Peter Straub ★★★☆☆ Very short and ultimately not very memorable, about a rather arrogant man who wants to be a yogi. Catch and Release by Lawrence Block ★★★★☆ Very creepy. I thought the fishing metaphor was laid on a bit thick but I liked how the story made me constantly reconsider the narrator's motifs. Polka Dots & Moonbeams by Jeffrey Ford ☆☆☆☆☆ I quickly lost track and interest because of all the names. I have no idea what happened at that bar (restaurant?) and I didn't feel inclined to skip back to the beginning. Loser by Chuck Palahniuk ★★☆☆☆ Confused me. It was about a game show but I couldn't grasp all the weird terms surrounding it. Maybe would've worked better for me if I had read it. Samantha's Diary by Diana Wynne Jones ★★★★☆ A kind of retelling of The Twelve Days of Christmas that was hilarious with all its avian guest characters. I didn't quite catch the meaning of the last sentences though. Land of the Lost by Stewart O'Nan ★★★★☆ Great idea about a woman who tries to find purpose by looking for somebody else's missing daughter. The ending felt a bit tame though. Leif in the Wind by Gene Wolfe ★★☆☆☆ Not my type because it was set in space. The whole bird-hallucination thing was interesting but I also felt confused a lot. Unwell by Carolyn Parkhurst ★★★★☆ This story about 2 sisters is deliciously mean and evil because we only get the POV of one of the sisters and while she outwardly acts as if she cares and only wants the best for her sibling, we quickly see through her and realize what her true motivations and goals are. A Life in Fictions by Kat Howard ★★★★☆ Cool concept about a woman being written into stories by her ex which really messes with her reality. Let the Past Begin by Jonathan Carroll ★★★★☆ Super weird and creepy! It's about a pregnant woman who tries to figure out who the father of her child is, with the premonition of a foreign fortune-teller in mind. The ending left me confused though because it could be understood in more than one way and I wish it had been clearer. The Therapist by Jeffery Deaver ★★☆☆☆ I enjoyed the stalking therapist chapter but the whole part about the memes was taken too seriously for my taste. I would've preferred a more ambivalent approach (are they real? aren't they?). Also, the story worked fine as 1 chapter only to me, instead it is enlarged with 2 more which moves the plot into a slightly different direction. Parallel Lines by Tim Powers ★★☆☆☆ Very similar premise to Carolyn Parkhurst's story: it's about 2 sisters in their 70s, one of them recently deceased and now trying to communicate with the living sister. Their relationship is strained, to say the least. It was nothing special and felt too repetitive due to Parkhurst's story earlier. The Cult of the Nose by Al Sarrantonio ★★★★☆ The idea with the noses seemed kind of weird at first but Sarrantonio made it work and created a creepy tale reminiscent of Bradbury's The Crowd. Human Intelligence by Kurt Anderson ★★★☆☆ A researcher makes a big discover in the Arctic. The twist was cute and reminded me of one of the earlier stories in the collection (Unbelief) but the ending felt super abrupt. Stories by Michael Moorcock ★☆☆☆☆ What was the point of this?? It read like the summary of the lives of a group of friends, everything was just told, not shown. The theme of pulp fiction storytelling had its merits but everything else fell flat. The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon by Elizabeth Hand ★★★☆☆ A group of men attempts to recreate a video of the Bellerophon's first (and only) flight. I feel like some connections went over my hand and I'm not sure it really needed to be this long but I liked it well enough. The Devil on the Staircase by Joe Hill ★★★☆☆ To be honest, by this point I just wanted to be done with the audiobook. Thus I didn't pay that much attention to the story. It was engaging though and interesting.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    I'm always looking to branch out and read authors I've not read before, and honestly that's easier to do in the realm of the short story than it is with novels most of the time. Often I'll discover an author I've never heard of, or come across an author I've heard of but never read, in a short story anthology and that will inspire me to seek out that author's longer works. This anthology provided that opportunity in big shovel-fulls. Most of the authors that editors Gaiman and Sarrantonio asked I'm always looking to branch out and read authors I've not read before, and honestly that's easier to do in the realm of the short story than it is with novels most of the time. Often I'll discover an author I've never heard of, or come across an author I've heard of but never read, in a short story anthology and that will inspire me to seek out that author's longer works. This anthology provided that opportunity in big shovel-fulls. Most of the authors that editors Gaiman and Sarrantonio asked to be in this book are authors I've said "Oh, yeah, I need to read that person eventually" about for years: Jodi Picoult, Gene Wolfe, Joe R. Lansdale, Stewart O'Nan, Chuck Palahniuk, Elizabeth Hand, Diana Wynne-Jones, Richard Adams, Al Sarrantonio, Joanne Harris, Jeffery Deaver, Walter Mosely. Several other contributors are authors whose work I already admire and was glad to see more of: Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates, Peter Straub, Joe Hill, Lawrence Block. Michael Moorcock. And others are authors I was completely unfamiliar with, like Kurt Andersen and Carolyn Parkhurst. Gaiman and Sarrantonio put together the anthology because they wanted to read more stories that made them ask "and then what happened?" Stories that have that sense that not only does life go on for the characters but that you want to know what that life, that next moment, is like. Most of the stories meet that goal, and some do more than meet it. There are a few out-and-out genre stories: Mosely's take on vampire fic, Wolfe's endangered space flight, Deaver's and Block's psychological thrillers, but just as many that aren't: Moorcock's semi-autobiographical tale, Lansdale's war vet returning to an unhappy home, O'Nan's lonely divorcee searching for something beyond herself to focus on. Some cross genres: Gaiman's tale is part revenge story, part mystical treasure hunt; Sarrantonio's tale is an expose of secret societies that is also a smooth bit of psychological horror. All anthologies are bound to be a bit hit-or-miss, and multi-author themed anthologies more so than single-author collections. This one falls more on the side of "hit" than "miss" though. Favorites in the collection include Joe Hill's "The Devil on the Staircase" (I usually hate stories that are set in a 'form' of some kind, but Hill pulled me in despite that dislike with his stair-like paragraphs), Jeffery Deaver's "The Therapist," Lawrence Block's "Catch and Release," Stewart O'Nan's "Land of the Lost," Jodi Picoult's "Weights and Measures." Only a few stories really didn't work for me: Richard Adams' "The Knife," Chuck Palahniuk's "Loser," Diana Wynne-Jones' "Samantha's Diary."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Otchen Makai

    Absolutely in LOVE with this book. This is DEFINITELY one that belongs in my, and most other peoples, collection. It's a combination of many of my favorite authors and a couple I've never heard of. The short stories are dark, intense, mysterious, and some are even a little bit scary. This is a hit for me, 100%. If you enjoy dark reads, and are a fan of authors such as Chuck Palahniuk, Joe Hill, Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Carroll, (and many other wonderful other authors), ((as I am)), then I'd say you'l Absolutely in LOVE with this book. This is DEFINITELY one that belongs in my, and most other peoples, collection. It's a combination of many of my favorite authors and a couple I've never heard of. The short stories are dark, intense, mysterious, and some are even a little bit scary. This is a hit for me, 100%. If you enjoy dark reads, and are a fan of authors such as Chuck Palahniuk, Joe Hill, Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Carroll, (and many other wonderful other authors), ((as I am)), then I'd say you'll probably enjoy this book. I'd recommend it to any and all of my friends.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chris Dietzel

    I'm not much for short story collections but by selecting stories that had a flare for the unusual this book kept my interest throughout. Neil Gaiman's and Joe Hill's stories stuck out in my head as my favorites. Overall, I would say I enjoyed this collection more than the "Best American Short Stories" anthology that comes out each year. I'm not much for short story collections but by selecting stories that had a flare for the unusual this book kept my interest throughout. Neil Gaiman's and Joe Hill's stories stuck out in my head as my favorites. Overall, I would say I enjoyed this collection more than the "Best American Short Stories" anthology that comes out each year.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sir He-Man

    This is an overall really excellent collection of short stories. Some of them are genre. Some aren't. Most of them have a very "unexpected" quality to them that I appreciated. I like being surprised by a short story and there were many here that really stood out. Thematically, I heard that Gaiman said he wanted each story to feel open ended and I really think a lot of them do so without it being too perplexing on the reader. I wouldn't describe most of these as "typical" genre stories because a This is an overall really excellent collection of short stories. Some of them are genre. Some aren't. Most of them have a very "unexpected" quality to them that I appreciated. I like being surprised by a short story and there were many here that really stood out. Thematically, I heard that Gaiman said he wanted each story to feel open ended and I really think a lot of them do so without it being too perplexing on the reader. I wouldn't describe most of these as "typical" genre stories because a lot of them are very playful with the boundaries of genre fantasy/scifi/mystery etc. THE BEST: The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman - A dynamite bit of dark fantasy set in a world that could be ours but slightly isn't. Setting is similar to Wales or Scotland and a dwarf goes on a mission to find a magic cave. Sounds fun? It isn't. It's about how emotional darkness swallows us more than the physical aspects of a cave. The characters are unforgettable and in typical Gaiman fashion the ending is superbly unforgettable. Goblin Lake by Michael Swanwick - When the fourth wall of fiction is broken and it's done right, it looks like this. A wonderful little bit of reality breaks apart a fairy tale setting. Think the movie "Enchanted" but without the cheerfulness distilled into a psychologically jarring life decision. Polka Dots and Moonbeams by Jeffrey Ford - Jeffrey Ford has never written anything I didn't LOVE. I loved this. I loved the mysteriousness of it, the setting, the details, the 50s cultural nods, and most of all I loved the incredibly bizarre ending which just came out of nowhere. I appreciate it because it changes your view on everything that occurred to the point where you really have to reread it just to appreciate it all the more. It makes you automatically guess many possible reasons for what exactly happens. I like that it whets my appetite for hypothesizing about the mystery at hand. Unwell by Carolyn Parkhurst - This is not really a genre story. It's a character driven story and the narrator is by far my favorite in the entire collection. She is a villain and her obsessions and machinations are subtle, sociopathic, and you can't stop reading it. Slam bang ending that left my jaw dropping. Parallel Lines by Tim Powers - A neat bit of ghost possession story. I like a story where a character truly outwits and outsmarts another for the overall good. This takes a common trope in supernatural fiction and gives it some oomph with an excellent mystery solved by a woman who never solved a mystery before, and that's always fun. Human Intelligence by Kurt Andersen - To describe any part of this might give away how awesome it is. Fantasy comedy gold, for sure. It's also moving and I both pitied the main characters and simultaneously was excited for them as they met and their worlds crossed. If you like a good "alien among us" story, this is definitely for you. I laughed out loud to the main punchline. The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon by Elizabeth Hand - Really well drawn characters. A group of lovable losers discovers that a crazy bit of forgotten aviation history holds the key to something far stranger. The setting of a South Carolina island is vividly and lushly drawn and the prose for that alone is magnificent and worthy of praise. There are all sorts of odd moments that collectively make a really wonderful magical realist portrait and it comes together in a sad love ballad to wacko authors, dreamers, and enthusiasts of real life scientific "unexplainable" mysteries. There were several moments in this story where certain things were occurring, such as the moth scene, that felt so real and just jumped out at me for the sudden emotion they brought up, the sudden immersion in a unit of people that are all together on a journey that leads to a very strange event. But it's the journey that's important. Going through archives for decades sounds a lot less boring when you look at it from the angle of these characters and it's a delicious buildup that leaves you with more questions than answers but you'll be glad you went along for the ride. The Devil on the Staircase by Joe Hill - Incredibly atmospheric. Stories about hell and heaven are quite common in genre fiction, but it's rare to find a story that evokes the raw power of sin and its immediate aftermath and ties that in with a literal version of the afterlife. Hell is the worst of human vanity, selfishness, jealousy, and anger. SECOND BEST Fossil Figures by Joyce Carol Oates - This is an odd story. Most people will be turned off of it. I thought it was eerily beautiful and bizarrely came together in a way that I thought was fitting. It's rare to find a story that begins with conception inside the womb as a relevant plot point, and proceeds to be both gross and fascinating as two brothers lead very separate lives. Sometimes people gravitate to each other when they really don't want to. The Stars Are Falling by Joe R. Lansdale - The quiet despair and fall of a man who returns home from the First World War told in gorgeous prose. Beautifully told tragedy. Again, this skirts the horror genre in a palpable atmosphere. The air practically drips with untold secrets. Juvenal Nyx by Walter Mosley - Black radical in the 60s becomes a vampire. Told in very fluid prose (ahem) the theme seems to really be about the idea of awakening, both physically and mentally. The story seems to me a metaphor for isolation and shutting out the world. And it's one that works well. Loser by Chuck Palahniuk - I do love a first person point of view story told with the kind of madness that Palahniuk is able to express. The horror here is in that the character's anxiety is entirely allowing him to come undone in a very public way, on a daytime game show. A great point is made here about the falsehood of that cheerful little fake world and how an audience never knows what is on the mind of the man in the spotlight. Mallon the Guru by Peter Straub - Brief but outstanding story of a man quite possibly mistaken for something he isn't in India. Samantha's Diary by Dianna Wynne Jones - Comedic story from the future about a romantic gesture gone horribly and hilariously awry. Ends on a very big cliffhanger, and I do hope the poor protagonist will recover from the oddities which pursued her. Oddities stand out in this book quite frequently. It's an excellent recurring theme of a very realistic world suddenly filled with the most unexpected things... Leif in the Wind by Gene Wolfe - Science fiction story set on another planet regarding an astronaut's madness or sanity, depending on how you look at it. Gene Wolfe is always ready to bring you on a not so easy ride into space. The Cult of the Nose by Al Sarrantonio - A historical mystery taking place over time. I liked it. Didn't love the ending but I do love a good evil secret society story. SOMEWHAT MEH Blood by Roddy Doyle - Rather boring concept, but the ending made me laugh. Wildfire in Manhattan by Joanne Harris - Typical urban fantasy story. Not really anything outstanding about it. The Knife by Richard Adams - Short short story about a man that commits murder in college for seemingly no reason, and he admits it to a relative. I will say this is the story that stuck with me the most, rather unexpectedly. The last lines are about what his godfather decides to do, convincing his godson just to continue about his life as if nothing has happened. He then turns the question to you, the audience. What would YOU do in that situation? A Life in Fictions by Kat Howard - Rather boring. It utilizes the same theme of breaking through the book world that Goblin Lake does, but it doesn't do it nearly as well. A woman disappears when her boyfriend writes her as the character to all his stories. She goes along with it because why not. Interesting concept. Uninteresting execution. Let the Past Begin by Jonathan Carroll - Does the female character have a curse or not? Who knows! You don't find out. I suppose this feels more like real life. Sometimes bizzare things happen and we discuss them but nothing is ever found out as to whether they are actually real. I love Carroll normally but this story didn't really stand out to me. DIDN'T LIKE Unbelief by Michael Marshall Smith - Hit man goes after his brother. Yawn. Catch and Release by Lawrence Block - Serial killer sometimes lets his would be victims go and instead helps them out...then he goes back to serial killing. Ugh. No thanks. Weights and Measures by Jodi Picoult - This story starts off with a great plot and quickly devolves into surrealism. And maybe I don't have a very big appreciation for surrealism but the nonsensicalness of the reality in which the characters lived rubbed me the wrong way. Nothing about it makes any sense to me, and even if the author explains it off as a metaphor, it's such a boring metaphor that I could care less. Also, it's nightmarish but in the true sense of a nightmare in the utter unexplainable aspect of it. The Therapist by Jeffery Deaver - The longest story in this collection but I feel like it could have been way more succinct. Is there an entity that possesses humans and makes them do things when we suspect its presence? I'll admit as a concept it's a good one. Essentially a hard boiled courtroom thriller like you would get from Grisham but with a potential madman who may or may not be right about the entities that supposedly possess people. Stories by Michael Moorcock - The most uninteresting story in this collection. Boo. I don't care if it's Moorcock and he's popular. This story was agonizingly dull. A bunch of boring writers start off in the 60s to become a bunch of uninteresting geriatrics. I didn't care about a single person in this thing. Again. Boo.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gabi Eisenberg

    A nice anthology of stories.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kellie

    Like all short story anthologies, this was a mixed bag. About half I really loved, maybe six or seven I was ambivalent about, and three or four I didn’t like. I feel bad about it, but one of the stories I didn’t like was actually Neil Gaiman’s, which I didn’t expect. Favorites: Blood, Wildfire in Manhattan, Juvenal Nyx, Unwell, The Therapist, The Cult of the Nose, and Human Intelligence. In fact, these need to be adapted into full-length novels immediately.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Aidil

    I found it really hard to finish this book. Didn't like most of the stories and to be honest, was really disappointed in it. I don't think I would ever re-read this book. I found it really hard to finish this book. Didn't like most of the stories and to be honest, was really disappointed in it. I don't think I would ever re-read this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    A very unusual collection of stories, with no overarching theme. 1.) Blood by Roddy Doyle. A story about a normal man who develops a gradual craving for blood. 2.) Fossil-Figures by Joyce Carol Oates. A story about two brothers, the older and stronger one hating and making life miserable for the other. 3.) Wildfire in Manhattan by Joanne Harris. A story about gods who live in NYC. 4.) The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman. A story about a dwarf in medieval times seeking reven A very unusual collection of stories, with no overarching theme. 1.) Blood by Roddy Doyle. A story about a normal man who develops a gradual craving for blood. 2.) Fossil-Figures by Joyce Carol Oates. A story about two brothers, the older and stronger one hating and making life miserable for the other. 3.) Wildfire in Manhattan by Joanne Harris. A story about gods who live in NYC. 4.) The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman. A story about a dwarf in medieval times seeking revenge for his murdered daughter. 5.) Unbelief by Michael Marshall Smith. A story about a man who murders Santa Claus. 6.) The Stars Are Falling by Joe R. Lansdale. A story about a man who returns from war only to find his wife has taken up with another man. 7.) Juvenal Nyx by Walter Mosley. A tale about vampires. 8.) The Knife by Richard Adams. This is a story about a schoolboy who kills his head prefect. 9.) Weights and Measures by Jodi Picoult. A story about a couple whose child dies. 10.) Goblin Lake by Michael Swanwick. A story about people who exist in fiction rather than reality. 11.) Mallon the Guru by Peter Straub. A story about a man who goes to India and finds out he has powers. 12.) Catch and Release by Lawrence Block. A story about a serial killer. 13.) Polka Dots and Moonbeams by Jeffrey Ford. A very strange story about a murderous couple. 14.) Loser by Chuck Palahniuk. A very strange story about a drugged coed who goes on a gameshow. 15.) Samantha's Diary by Diana Wynne Jones. A story about a woman in the future who is wooed by the 12 Days of Christmas. Humorous. 16.) Land of the Lost by Stewart O'Nan. A story about a woman who makes it her mission to find the body of a missing child. 17.) Leif in the Wind by Gene Wolfe. A very strange story about a space mission and some alien birds. 18.) Unwell by Carolyn Parkhurst. A story about a really mean sister who does everything she can to undermine her sister's health and well-being. 19.) A Life in Fictions by Kat Howard. A story about a woman whose life is slowly disappearing because her boyfriend insists on using her as a muse. 20.) Let the Past Begin by Jonathan Carroll. A story about a woman who believes she is cursed. 21.) The Therapist by Jeffery Deaver. A story about a man who may or may not be mentally ill, and what causes people to commit violent crimes. 22.) Parallel Lines by Tim Powers. A story about a woman who dies and tries to come back to life by possessing another body. 23.) The Cult of the Nose by Al Sarrantonio. A creepy story about a cult that is tied with death and horror. 24.) Human Intelligence by Kurt Anderson. A humorous story about an alien spy. 25.) Stories by Michael Moorcock. A boring story about some friends and what happens to them. Reads like a history of people you don't know and don't care about. 26.) The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon by Elizabeth Hand. A story about a flying machine, and a dying woman. 27.) The Devil on the Staircase by Joe Hill. This story is written to look like a staircase. It is about a man who meets the devil, commits murder and takes a gift from the devil that helps him lie. A lot of these stories were mean-spirited, and I did not enjoy that. I liked the humorous ones the best: Human Intelligence and Samantha's Diary.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Daria

    I love anthologies and I am happy to give any professionally made and time-worthy anthology a five or a four. In this case it is a three because one of the stories was so disturbing and misogynistic that it brought the entire collection down. Now, story by story: “Blood” by Roddy Doyle. An okay beginner, an exercise in "vampires, but make it mundane!". Did not like the ending or the main character. 2 stars. “Fossil-Figures” by Joyce Carol Oates. I was very intrigues at the beginning, but as the stor I love anthologies and I am happy to give any professionally made and time-worthy anthology a five or a four. In this case it is a three because one of the stories was so disturbing and misogynistic that it brought the entire collection down. Now, story by story: “Blood” by Roddy Doyle. An okay beginner, an exercise in "vampires, but make it mundane!". Did not like the ending or the main character. 2 stars. “Fossil-Figures” by Joyce Carol Oates. I was very intrigues at the beginning, but as the story unfolded it became obvious that there are not going to appear more ideas than the first 5 paragraphs presented. 3 stars. “Wildfire in Manhattan” by Joanne Harris. A cute enough tale of the ancient gods doing stuff in some post-apocalyptic New York, but I have to agree with another reviewer that Neil Gaiman had done it already in "American Gods". 3 stars. “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains” by Neil Gaiman. Here is Neil Gaiman! It is a very dark fairytale, masterfully told. I wouldn't want to spend more time in that world, but it is unquestionably very well written. 4 stars. “Unbelief” by Michael Marshall Smith Left me unbothered either way. 2 stars. “The Stars Are Falling” by Joe R. Lansdale Smith One of the more compelling stories of the collection, gripping and fully-fledged. However, the abundance of violence was not to my taste, I really didn't like the main character and I think in general less stories about how Men Are Wounded in the war are needed in the world. 3 stars. “Juvenal Nyx” by Walter Mosley This story about a vampire in a more or less modern US was a clear division into two part, one far more interesting than the other. I loved the first part, before the transition - the world felt real, the main character had personality that felt worth exploring further, I loved his involvement in politics and the mystery of his new acquaintance. After the transition, however, it became a boring B-movie with fights. First part -4 stars, second part - 2 stars. “The Knife” by Robert Adams What was that? Listened to the story twice, didn't understand a thing. 1 star. “Weights and Measures” by Jodi Picoult A melancholy story about a couple dealing with the death of their only child. The rather detached storytelling manner made it hard for me to really feel this one. 2 stars. “Goblin Lake” by Michael Swanwick A gimmicky story about a soldier who falls in love with a mermaid. Or does he? Entertaining, but a bit too clown-y for me. 2,5 stars. “Mallon the Guru” by Peter Straub I quite like this one. I found that the atmosphere was really well described - I imagined myself in an Indian village with almost palpable level of detail. I could feel the hot air, and the sun, and the confusion of the town people. The story, I found, was not fully told - but of this one I would love to learn more. 4 stars. Polka Dots and Moonbeams” by Jeffrey Ford This was a story that I could have loved, had it explained its world more. There was a very "Black Mirror" feel to it, almost like they were characters in a video game or something like that. If only the story developed the ideas further. 3 stars. “Loser” by Chuck Palahniuk It was a short story by Chuck Palahniuk. 2 stars. “Land of the Lost” by Stewart O’Nan A woman searches obsessively for a body of a dead girl she didn't personally know. I was not into this story. 2 stars. “Let the Past Begin” by Jonathan Carroll One of my favourite stories of them all! A man discover's his partner's strange obsession. I really liked the strange, not-very-often seen in art characters, their quirks and their relationship. The main male character was written in a very refreshing way - he was more interested in discovering more about a life of a woman her knew than about proving the world he is absolutely the best. I liked him. The writing was superb, and the story itself intriguing. I would be willing to read more by Jonathan Carroll. 4,5 stars. “Catch and Release” by Lawrence Block Here is the disgusting piece bringing the entire book down. It was physically nauseating to read this one; felt not like a fiction story, but rather an excuse to unleash torture fantasies on as many people as possible. Lawrence Block is a definitive and unrevocable no for me. 0 stars (and preferably police supervision) for this guy. “Samantha’s Diary” by Diana Wynne Jones I listened to an audiobook version of this anthology, and this story, I suspect, was essentially ruined by the narration. The woman who voiced her sounded about three times the age of the main character, and made her sound shrill, shallow and annoying. I think, with an actual paper book Samantha would come of far more careless and fun, even if somewhat spoilt. This was fun and light; I didn't understand the ending though. 3 stars. “Leif in the Wind” by Gene Wolfe Another no for me, and painfully old, white and stale writing. In this science-fiction story the main female character spends a significant portion of her page time thinking about how she will have to sleep with her male colleagues to... who knows? keep them in a good mood? I audibly "ugh"d at this. THIS IS NOT HOW WOMEN THINK, male author. Needless to say this entire "internal monologue" was irrelevant to the story, didn't move the plot forward and performed no vital storytelling functions. Ugh. 1 star. “Unwell” by Carolyn Parkhurst This black comedy story about two sisters, now elderly, and the lives they lived, was absolutely brilliant. Possibly the best of the bunch! 4,5 stars. A Life in Fictions” by Kat Howard A second meta story-about-stories work in the collection. I liked the idea, but did not paticularly enjoy the story iself. 2,5 stars. “The Therapist” by Jeffery Deaver Really enjoyed this one. It was intriguing, engaging, fun, and the author cleverly made us feel uncertain about the main character. Is her a madman or? 4 stars. The Cult of the Nose” by Al Sarrantonio Very similar to “The Therapist” in tone, themes and narrative structure, this story is good and compelling, but loses just ever so slightly from being second after a work so similar. 3,5 stars. “Parallel Lines” by Tim Powers I liked this fun! Another fun and tongue-in-cheek story about two elderly sisters with a complicated relationships, who are now communicating through an Ouija board. Really fun and with an excellent ending! 4,5 stars. “Human Intelligence” by Kurt Andersen Another good one! A female scientist working at a polar station discovers something very, very stranger lost in the nature, and decides to investigate further to possibly deliver the world the biggest news it has ever had! 4,5 stars. “Stories” by Michael Moorcock This belongs on the trashpile of history. An elderly writer muses on how he and a bunch of his male writer friends were being horrible people when younger. 1 star. “The Maiden Flight Of McCauley’s Bellerophon” by Elizabeth Hand Again, somewhat similar to the previous one: a bunch of old friends spend time thinking and talking about things they did when they were young. Much less obnoxious than "Stories", this one still didn't do much for me. 2 stars. “The Devil On The Staircase” by Joe Hill A dumb Italian boy from a village meets the son of Satan. Another good one. Really well written, well structured, clever conceptually and in realisation. I liked Italy as the setting as well, it was a welcome departure from the overpowering America of it all. 4,5 stars to Joe Hill, would read more of his work. Overall, with 20 male to 8 female authors ratio, this anthology would probably have benefited from more diversity, to make stories more different and gripping.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Oria

    Sometimes I like to get to know a book backwards. Just turn to its last pages and see what I can find. And at the end of this one, I found the following: "I meant to put my hands on her shoulders to hold her still but when I reached for her they found her smooth neck instead." First impression may not be the most accurate but it is the most powerful. I had one of those feelings of -I need to get this now- that happens every now and then but not too often. And I'm glad to say my first impression w Sometimes I like to get to know a book backwards. Just turn to its last pages and see what I can find. And at the end of this one, I found the following: "I meant to put my hands on her shoulders to hold her still but when I reached for her they found her smooth neck instead." First impression may not be the most accurate but it is the most powerful. I had one of those feelings of -I need to get this now- that happens every now and then but not too often. And I'm glad to say my first impression was also accurate. And so, it wasn't until later on when I got home and read the words again that I noticed the author of the story that got my attention was none other than Joe Hill, and his little weird story was called “The Devil on the Staircase”. "Stories" brings together 27 short horror tales into a beautiful collection. It starts with Roddy Doyle’s “Blood”, a rather funny and chilling story that’s a very strong first step on this horror journey. Neil Gaiman contributes with “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains”, a story that builds up slowly in an odd folk-tale like fashion until the unexpected conclusion at the end. “Catch and Release” is another one of my favorites. It is a seemingly normal tale and I was deceptively lulled into complacency as I began to care about the main character and at the end it delivered such a turn as to send tendrils of fear down into my very soul. It made me think a chilling thought: yes, this could very well be true. “Juvenal Nyx” is quite a nice twist on a vampire story whose end left me wanting more. Judy Picoult’s “Weights and Measures” was an amazing story of grief and loss and how it can transform people and not just in the psychological sense. “Unwell” and “Parallel Lines” are about the relationships between two sisters and how those blood ties become thick ropes of bitter emotions. “Human Intelligence” started out rather slowly but the end was so unexpected and funny, it made me smile. There were a few stories I didn’t care much about but they made me appreciate the ones I liked even more. A very entertaining book with gripping tales and unexpected endings and a just below the surface feeling of the surreal which makes one wonder, for a fraction of a second, if they couldn’t very well be real.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    I love short stories, but this collection fell short for me. Some were good, but overall, i just can't say i enjoyed this collection. I love short stories, but this collection fell short for me. Some were good, but overall, i just can't say i enjoyed this collection.

  26. 5 out of 5

    The Bibliophile Doctor

    Oh man this one is the one big book of short stories. Didn't know that it's not only Neil gaiman's stories. Reviews coming up one by one. • Blood by Roddy Doyle *** This is a story about a man who develops a craving for blood. What he is and how he became what he is unclear. An average story. Would have liked to read more but it ended just like that. 3 out of 5 stars. • Fossil-figures by Joyce Carol Oates ** It's repetitive, annoying and frustrating story, at times pretentious even. Well could have Oh man this one is the one big book of short stories. Didn't know that it's not only Neil gaiman's stories. Reviews coming up one by one. • Blood by Roddy Doyle *** This is a story about a man who develops a craving for blood. What he is and how he became what he is unclear. An average story. Would have liked to read more but it ended just like that. 3 out of 5 stars. • Fossil-figures by Joyce Carol Oates ** It's repetitive, annoying and frustrating story, at times pretentious even. Well could have been better given the theme was intriguing but then It was really hard to finish it off. 2 out of 5 stars. • Wildfire in Manhattan by Joanne Harris **** It's about Gods who are living in a disguise as simple human beings. Something Like urban legend. Something from shadow trying to kill them but then sunny saves the day. I wanted more of it coz I absolutely loved reading it. 4 stars • The truth is a cave in the black mountains *****by Neil gaiman Oh how I love Neil gaiman. He writes real good short stories. This one is about a dwarfish man who asks a huge man for help to locate a cave which is said to have treasures. The twist at the end is cherry on the top. Just love love loved it. 5 stars. • Unbelief by Michael Marshall Smith ***** What can I say about this one? It's my favorite. There's a short movie too of 16 minutes. Not good as the story itself. It's well written and impressive. 5 Stars •the stars are falling by Joe R. Lansdale ***** I loved this story. It's excellent and horrifying. I love the way it's Incorporated in words. It made me numb. One of the good short stories of the book. 5 stars • Juvenal nyx by Walter Mosley Will update rest review soon. It's tiring.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I am burned out of audiobooks for a while. I'm still bitter about no library, to no avail, and audiobooks from hoopla and overdrive just remind me of the painful fact that I do not have the ability to borrow a physical book from a physical library, and will not for god knows how long. so long story short (pun intended), I am bitter. I originally checked this out of overdrive like two months ago, then abandoned it for a hot second thinking I could finish it up really quick in a day or two. then i I am burned out of audiobooks for a while. I'm still bitter about no library, to no avail, and audiobooks from hoopla and overdrive just remind me of the painful fact that I do not have the ability to borrow a physical book from a physical library, and will not for god knows how long. so long story short (pun intended), I am bitter. I originally checked this out of overdrive like two months ago, then abandoned it for a hot second thinking I could finish it up really quick in a day or two. then it had to be returned, and there was already a hold on it so I had to wait two weeks for it back. the same thing happened once more after it expired the second time. none of the non-anthology audiobooks I tried in between all of this worked out for me, and here we are now, starting and abandoning the last three or four stories because I am just darn bored. I really liked a lot of the stories, and I also really didn't like some others. I valiantly stuck through the entirety of all of them (with the exception of these last few, all abandoned in the hopes of just being done with this audiobook already), mainly because I didn't want to mess around technologically to skip the ones I disliked, and also because most of them were intriguing enough to stick through, even up to a disappointing ending. I would trust neil gaiman with my life, so naturally I appreciate seeing his likes and dislikes - as evidenced by the wonderful audiobook of his from a couple months ago, the view from the cheap seats - and value his judgment. there was just something so tedious about how long this was: 17.5 hours!! especially when given how similar in nature a lot of the stories were. ultimately, I would like to think that the stories I didn't like were the ones chosen by the other guy, al sarrontonio. let's start with the stories I pretty much just skipped: -stories by michael moorcock; started great, wonderful writing and mucho literary allusions, but I decided life was too short when the story suddenly progressed to "my wife wanted a threesome, so..." -the maiden flight of mccauley's bellerophon by elizabeth hand; boring, and I can't take much of multiple characters with cancer in the first few minutes of a story -the devil on the staircase by joe hill; man kills man, man gets haunted, similar to like seventeen other stories in this book stories I did not enjoy, some of which I really should have skipped: -wildfire in manhattan by joanne harris; ever heard of american gods by *coughcough* neil gaiman? meet its uglier cousin -unbelief by michael marshall smith; too short to mean anything, and I will soon forget about it entirely -catch and release by lawrence block; made me think too hard about all those serial killers out there, and the violence towards innocent women made me sick stories that had their faults but I still liked: -juvenal nyx by walter mosley; narrated by my least favorite in this collection, the man with a voice like a more threatening version of the allstate commercial guy, vampires and black power, and some nauseating scenes of actual flesh eating -the knife by richard adams; really really really short, but effectively scary -mallon the guru by peter straub; a good example of when a great open ending is marred by the feeling that the author has absolutely no clue what happens next -polka dots and moonbeams by jeffrey ford; I have NO idea what happened in the first half of this story, but the ending was beautifully illustrated -samantha's diary by diana wynne jones; splendidly entertaining, but the ending was so abrupt. what happens next??? -land of the lost by stewart o'nan; would have appreciated a bit longer story, but a wildly interesting ending -unwell by carolyn parkhurst; looking now, this is a truly remarkable psychological portrait, but the main character reminded me all too well of a particularly annoying neighbor of mine -let the past begin by jonathon carroll; what the point was, I do not know, but I did enjoy the mysticism of it -the therapist by jeffrey deaver; some fascinating philosophy behind this one, but this was just one of several murder-based stories, and I was getting a little tired -parallel lines by tim powers; see note on unwell above. the ghosty parts, thanks to the wonderful lady narrator, made me shiver and my favorites, or ones I had less faults with: -blood by roddy doyle; deliciously creepy. it was like watching a reality show from another dimension -fossil-figures by joyce carol oates; gave me chills, and I've caught myself referencing it often -the truth is a cave in the black mountains by neil gaiman; just fantastic. I love me some neil gaiman short stories -the stars are falling by joe r. lansdale; similar in vibe to the gaiman story, but with a wwi twist -weights and measures by jodi picoult; I almost skipped it because reading about the deaths of children, even fictional, is very hard for me, but I am so glad I didn't. the only story to bring me to tears, and what a wonderful musing on the eternal bond of mother, father, and child. my favorite story in the collection -goblin lake by michael swanwick; plot twists! fun little parable on life choices -loser by chuck palahniuk; ok, tied for favorite story with weights and measures. made me want to read and watch fight club asap -leif in the wind by gene wolfe; I never got why they were in space to begin with, but loved the twilight zone plot twist at the end. it actually got me, I actually jumped -a life in fictions by kat howard; as an aspiring writer, it got me thinking of the importance of my characters -the cult of the nose by al sarrontonio; being in a twin peaksy mood after finishing the secret history, cults and coverups and conspiracies, sign me up -human intelligence by kurt andersen; unexpectedly cute alien story! overall, I really enjoyed getting to know all these new authors (none of whom I had read before, with the exception of oates and gaiman), and pretty much every story was interesting in some way. and neil gaiman picked them out, so I had to read them. thanks again, neil. also, shout out to that one young female narrator for a phenomenal job with every single one of her stories. her voice was so soothing and dramatic, and she changed it ever so slightly to match the vibe of each story perfectly. 10/10 just for her.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ryan I

    I liked Neil Gaiman's introduction, "Just Four Words," more than I liked most of the stories in this anthology. He makes the argument that each of the authors were selected because of their ability to get the reader feverishly flipping pages, with four words on their mind, "...and then what happened." All of the stories use fantastic or supernatural elements with wildly varying results. Highlights include: -Gaiman's "The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains": a dark, revenge fairy tale. -Joe R. L I liked Neil Gaiman's introduction, "Just Four Words," more than I liked most of the stories in this anthology. He makes the argument that each of the authors were selected because of their ability to get the reader feverishly flipping pages, with four words on their mind, "...and then what happened." All of the stories use fantastic or supernatural elements with wildly varying results. Highlights include: -Gaiman's "The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains": a dark, revenge fairy tale. -Joe R. Lansdale's "The Stars Are Falling" -Palanhiuk's "Loser" an ultra-trippy fever dream taking place on the stage of The Price Is Right. -Kat Howard's short and sweet meditation on the life of a character in a story/ muse ("A Life in Fictions") -Jeffery Deaver's "The Therapist" - First-person narration of a psycho therapist obsessed with 'nemes' and a first-person narration court case. Very twisted. -Al Sarrantino's super-creepy and not-recommended reading before bed, "The Cult of The Nose" -Elizabeth Hand's "The Maiden Flight..."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hudson

    I liked this book, but didn't love it. I thought the stories toward the end of the book dragged a little and I was surprised that Joe Hill's story did not seem that good at all. That said: the Joe Lansdale story is really good as are some of the others. A three rating from me overall. I liked this book, but didn't love it. I thought the stories toward the end of the book dragged a little and I was surprised that Joe Hill's story did not seem that good at all. That said: the Joe Lansdale story is really good as are some of the others. A three rating from me overall.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    3.5 rounded down to 3. Full review to come, but my overall impression is this: while there are some real standouts, too many of these stories felt like I had finished reading a free sample rather than a complete short story - you know, the kind that end in the middle of

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