I am a fan of short stories. Don’t run away! I felt the need to place that command right there because I know many of you (my dear readers) are NOT into short stories. Well, I have a solution. Or correction, or whatever. It has two steps, and is guaranteed to create a love for short stories. Want to know what it is?
Okay, since you asked nicely, I offer the Official Cecelia Bedelia Recipe for Inspiring Short Story Love. Step 1 – read an Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling anthology. Step 2 – if you haven’t already, lose your attention span. It’s easy to do, really. Just surf the web, click from channel to channel on the television, and try not to focus very hard on any one thing. If you find yourself slipping, I recommend drinking coffee, perusing magazines half-heartedly and people-watching in crowded public places. THEN, when you’ve whittled it down (your concentration level), short stories will be the perfect length. You’ll be able to pick up an anthology, read one entry, and put it back down, all with the satisfaction of having finished an entire story. Genius, eh?
So obviously step 2 is hogwash, but I do recommend step 1 for creating a love for the short story form. Datlow and Windling draw from the best authors, and their collections are always top notch.
What do werewolves, vampires, and the Little Mermaid have in common? They are all shapechangers. In The Beastly Bride, acclaimed editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling bring together original stories and poems from a stellar lineup of authors including Peter S. Beagle, Ellen Kushner, Jane Yolen, Lucius Shepard, and Tanith Lee, as well as many new, diverse voices. Terri Windling provides a scholarly, yet accessible introduction, and Charles Vess’s decorations open each story. From Finland to India, the Pacific Northwest to the Hamptons, shapechangers are part of our magical landscape—and The Beastly Bride is sure to be one of the most acclaimed anthologies of the year.
I felt that all of the stories in this anthology were strong, and many were stunning. Amazing quality across the board. BUT. Several entries created such evocative images that they will stay with me for a long time, perhaps forever. I can’t review each story, but I can say a little bit about a couple of them in the hopes that you’ll pick up this book too. It is certainly worthy.
“The Puma’s Daughter” by Tanith Lee – It was beautiful for its characterization of the wild nature of a girl and an animal. Also eloquently described one young man’s distrust of that wildness. Set in a fascinating fantasy world.
“The Selkie Speaks” by Delia Sherman – There were a couple of poetry pieces included in this anthology. This one poem was a simple paean to the mythical selkie and the different ways in which humans interact with nature.
“The Hikikomori” by Hiromi Goto – A haunting tale of human-to-animal transformation, and a commentary on acute social anxiety and withdrawal. It also addressed the continuing trend of forgetting and abandoning the rituals of the past, and how small actions can mend a larger world.
“The Comeuppance of Creegus Maxin” by Gregory Frost – A much-needed humorous piece, that added both light and dark tale flavors to the anthology. Witty, clever, odd and wonderful, set in 19th century America.
“Pishaach” by Shweta Narayan – A sinuous tale of a snake-shifter and an isolated girl who can only communicate through silence music, set in India.
“The Flock” by Lucius Shepard – A mysterious, atmospheric tale reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. About life in and moving past small-towns, and growing up to realize that not all friends and friendships are created equal.
Recommended for: those interested in myth, story-telling, fantasy and fairy tales from every corner of the world, and the ways in which each tale is told over in different ways in different places. Beautiful, sinister, strange, breathtaking, and altogether awesome.
I borrowed (well, rented at this point…I owe them so much in fines!) this book at my local library, and it counts for the Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge.