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Horse of a Different Color Hardcover – 12 Nov 2013

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About the Author

Howard Waldrop: Howard Waldrop, born in Mississippi and now living in Austin, Texas, is an American iconoclast. His highly original books include Them Bones and A Dozen Tough Jobs, and the collections Howard Who?, All About Strange Monsters of the Recent Past, Night of the Cooters, Other Worlds, Better Lives, and Things Will Never Be the Same. He won the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards for his novelette "The Ugly Chickens."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Literary Magician at His Best 27 Oct. 2013
By J Reston - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Howard Waldrop is some kind of wizard, a master at mining the past for story nuggets that he transmutes into storyteller's gold. "Horse of a Different Color" is a phrase referring to something different than what is originally expected, and that is an entirely appropriate description of what this book delivers. Waldrop's stories, though often brimming with wit and snappy dialogue, convey a subtle kind of wistfulness, a sense of dreams just out of reach, of things that were but are no more, of things that never were but should have been. This gives his stories an odd poignancy despite the seeming absurdity of some of his subject matter. Above all, the alternate worlds and secret histories depicted in his stories are more interesting places than the world we know. His latest collection displays a combination of unflagging imagination and writing skills that have only sharpened with time. He has truly mastered the art of concise story-telling, as several of these stories are epics in miniature that other writers might have developed into novels.

Some of my favorites include "The Wolf-man of Alcatraz," a compassionate look at 30 years in the life of a man imprisoned for murders committed while in his transformed state; The title story, in which a pair of obscure 1930s vaudevillians go on a quest for the holy grail (probably the weirdest grail-quest story ever written); "The King of Where-I-Go," about a brother and sister whose lives in the 1950s and 1960s are altered by polio, CIA psychic experiments, and time travel, in that order. "Avast, Abaft!," a literary mashup of Gilbert and Sullivan and J.M. Barrie, in which the Pirates of Penzance, while being pursued by the H.M.S. Pinafore, discover Barrie's Neverland and have a brush with Captain Hook (I know it sounds ridiculous but it's wildly entertaining); and "Kindermarchen," a devastating 6-page story that reimagines one of history's darkest hours in the context of a children's fairy tale.

Other interesting stories include "The Bravest Girl I Ever Knew," a biography of the fictional actress Ann Darrow in a world where the events of King Kong really happened; "Why Then Ile Fit You," a chronicle of the final years of obscure horror film actor George Zucco and his sad mental deterioration; "Thin, On the Ground," where two recent high school graduates travel from Texas to Mexico in 1962 and experience major culture shock, with sly nods to Mexican horror films and Robert E. Howard; "Ninieslando," a story set during World War I where ex-soldiers form a secret "country" beneath No Man's Land with a plan to peacefully unite the world; and "Frogskin Cap," a story set in the far future of Jack Vance's Dying Earth. There are really no weak stories in the book, IMO.

As the descriptions suggest, some of Waldrop's stories may be a bit too esoteric in subject matter to attract a wide audience, and his stories with their sometimes obscure references demand careful attention when reading. This could be off-putting to some, but the stories are relatively fast-paced and if you enjoy learning interesting historical facts and tidbits on the side this is definitely an added bonus. Waldrop makes his literary alchemy look easy, as if any competent writer could do it. However, few other writers I've read have consistently done this type of story justice (Andy Duncan and Avram Davidson come to mind, and I recommend their work as highly as Waldrop's). In recent years Waldrop has been somewhat slowed down by some serious health issues, but he says he still has a mountain of story ideas he wants to write. Take care of yourself Howard, we still need you!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
World Cultural Heritage 9 Nov. 2013
By Marc Fabian Erdl - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Locus once declared him a national treasure. In my opinion he should be declared "world cultural heritage". The love and the care he puts into his short stories are remarkable. Other authors would write umpteen novels based on ideas he simply burns in just a few paragraphs. And it's a shame that he isn't as widely read or translated as he deserves. This new set of stories could and should replace tons of old paper that you find in bookstores nowadays, SFF or otherwise. Like the late Steven Utley he has all the skills and then some, knows all the ropes, and bends and tears them as soon as you feel safe. It's like magic. You got to watch him every minute!

Ah - and King of Where-I-Go is heartbreaking. Nobody does it better. Period.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Cherish Waldrop, While He's Still Around 31 Dec. 2013
By J. Morris - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Howard's introduction to his latest collection was somewhat of a downer. You don't want to think the worst might occur, but who knows? It's such a long time waiting for anything from him. Still, I was glad to get this for my birthday and I read pretty much every story. There's no one else like him around and if you're picking this book up (or anything else from Waldrop) I advise you to savor it. Especially "The King of Where-I-Go, my favorite.
Howard hasn't lost his touch 25 Feb. 2014
By Paul R Frazier - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Howard Waldrop remains in fine form as a great practitioner of the lost art of the short story. Read this!
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