Monday, August 01, 2005

McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories

I just finished reading McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories (ed. by Michael Chabon). I read McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales (ed. by Michael Chabon, locally available via the Dakota County library system) previously, and it had a wonderful fictionalized account of the hanging of Mary the elephant - Glen David Gold's "The Tears of Squonk, and What Happened Thereafter". Neil Gaiman ("Closing Time") and Stephen King ("The Legend of Gray Dick") were both memorable in the older collection. In this collection, I'd personally recommend China Mieville's "Reports of Certain Events in London" which is perhaps one of the most unique stories I've read and just ever so vaguely related to an aspect of Harry Potter. Joyce Carol Oates "The Fabled Light-house of Vina del Mar" stands out as thoroughly Cthulu-esque, and she notes that it is based upon some fragments from Edgar Allen Poe. Margaret Atwood, in "Lusus Naturae", violates one of the rules I once read about writing fiction on Boing Boing - that is, writing about the seemingly weak creature that is not - but in this case, is - though that (in)human twist doesn't seem to be enough to redeem the story. But Jason Roberts "7C" is absolutely worth reading, even if it's the only thing you read in the collection (actually, read that and Mieville) and even gets a special note in the collection because it won the "August Van Zorn Prize for Weird Fiction" - well deserved in my opinion.

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