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Stories
edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio
William Morrow, 432 pages

Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is the author of one of the most critically acclaimed comic books of the decade, the Sandman series from DC Comics. He is also the author of a collection of short stories, Angels and Visitations, and the co-author (with Terry Pratchett) of Good Omens. His first anthology was The Sandman Book of Dreams. He is the creator and author of the BBC series Neverwhere, which inspired his novel of the same name. Born in England, he now lives in Minnesota.

Neil Gaiman Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Anansi Boys
SF Site Review: Mirrormask: The Illustrated Film Script of the Motion Picture
SF Site Review: The Sandman: Endless Nights
SF Site Review: Coraline
SF Site Review: A Walking Tour of the Shambles
SF Site Review: American Gods
SF Site Review: Stardust
SF Site Review: Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
SF Site Review: Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
SF Site Review: Neverwhere
SF Site Review: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish
SF Site Review: The Sandman: Book of Dreams

Al Sarrantonio
Novelist, short story writer, editor, book reviewer and columnist, Al Sarrantonio is the author of 20 novels in the horror, science fiction, mystery, and western genres, as well as the editor of 5 books of horror and humour. He has been nominated for the Horror Writer Association's Bram Stoker Award as well as for the Shamus Award of the Private Eye Writers of America.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Redshift
SF Site Review: 999

A review by Mario Guslandi

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Stories Another theme anthology? According to the editors the theme is "and then what happened?" which, in other words, means that the only true requirement for inclusion is good storytelling. Obvious? Not quite. Short story anthologies and collections should always be aimed to tell stories, but unfortunately this is not always the case.

Here we have twenty-seven new tales by renowned authors (and storytellers) such as Joyce Carol Oates, Roddy Doyle, Peter Straub, Joe R. Lansdale, Chick Palahniuk, Gene Wolfe, Jonathan Carroll, Michael Moorcock, and each of the two editors Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio. They provide twenty-seven stories, ranging from the fantastic to the horrific, from pulp fiction to fantasy.

Of course some are just run-of-the-mill products, some are failures, but some are so good that I will immediately stop beating around the bush and start mentioning them to you.

Roddy Doyle provides "Blood," a delightful piece featuring a man suddenly with a craving for bloody meat despite his total lack of interest for vampire stories…

"Parallel Lines" by Tim Powers is a brilliant, superbly told story where a twin sister desperately tries to come back from the grave.

Neil Gaiman's "The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains" is a fascinating fairy tale revolving around greed, revenge and a lost daughter.

In "Catch and Release," Lawrence Block draws, with a steady hand, a neat but disquieting portrait of a peculiar "fisherman" endlessly searching a new prey.

Jeffrey Ford reaffirms his extraordinary qualities as a fantasist in the enjoyable "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," a quite remarkable type of pulp fiction piece.

Carolyn Parkurst ("Unwell") expertly probes the lives and the characters of two sisters in love with the same man.

Al Sarrantonio contributes "The Cult of the Nose" a splendid, off-beat tale where a man painstakingly collects pieces of evidence about the existence of an unusual cult.

Joe Hill's "The Devil on the Staircase" is a superb story written in an ingenuous graphic style reproducing the main character's actions of climbing and descending stairs.

In the fascinating "The Stars Are Falling" by Joe R. Lansdale, a man, supposedly dead, comes back home to his unfaithful bride. Great storytelling indeed.

Jodi Picoult's "Weights and Measures" is the insightful depiction of the grief and the concomitant physical changes undergone by two parents after the untimely death of their little girl.

Among so many excellent contributions my favourite stories are "Fossil-Figures" by Joyce Carol Oates, a masterpiece of subtlety and a wonderful parable of life's conflicting aspects as represented by the opposite destinies of two very different twins, and "Unbelief" by Michael Marshall Smith, an incredibly clever literary gem where, around Christmas time, a murderer gets rid of a person deeply involved in the seasonal rituals.

In short, Stories is a quite enjoyable anthology that I wholeheartedly recommend.

Copyright © 2010 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.


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