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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bridging the Genre Gulf
It begins with blood. Roddy Doyle's "Blood," to be sure: a slick and sickening twist of a tale about a man who develops an inexplicable, irresistible hunger for the red stuff. "He grew up in Dracula's city. He'd walked past Bram Stoker's house every day on his way to school. But it had meant nothing to him," until one night his wife is cooking up a steak and he realises...
Published on 7 Jun 2010 by Niall Alexander

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Hit and miss
I really loved some of the stories in this collection, and some I just skipped. Some of the stories are really creepy and strange.
Published on 21 Jun 2012 by Amazon Customer


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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bridging the Genre Gulf, 7 Jun 2010
This review is from: Stories (Hardcover)
It begins with blood. Roddy Doyle's "Blood," to be sure: a slick and sickening twist of a tale about a man who develops an inexplicable, irresistible hunger for the red stuff. "He grew up in Dracula's city. He'd walked past Bram Stoker's house every day on his way to school. But it had meant nothing to him," until one night his wife is cooking up a steak and he realises he wants it not medium-rare, not blue, but raw. He plays the eejit when she laughs his urge off; privately, his compulsion threatens to spirals out of control. He self-diagnoses anemia, imagines himself a neck fetish, but the forbidden truth of this fabulous farce is disarmingly simple: he just wants to drink blood. To next door's henhouse, then.

Stories begins with such a barnstormer of a short that you'll have bought into this once-in-a-lifetime anthology's only real conceit before you can think twice about it - and why would you? Do you hate fun? In a publicity video released a short while before this book, co-editor Neil Gaiman asserted that there's no definitive right way to read a collection of short stories; be it front to back, back to front, selectively according to length or author, any which way will do. One thing is for certain, though: Roddy Doyle's contribution is the perfect one with which to begin Stories: All-New Tales. Clever, funny and mysterious, it brings genre and general fiction together, addressing, if not quite answering the underlying question which Gaiman states in his brief introduction was the only real requirement for inclusion in this anthology: "And then what happened?"

It's a question you'll find yourself asking of this star-studded collection of short stories page after page. Roddy Doyle gives way to Joyce Carol Oates, whose chilling repetition of "but not one. Two" haunts "Fossil-Figures", a chilling, circular tale of twins born other to one another reminiscent of The Omen. Oates hands the reins to Joanne Harris, whose Jigs and Reels demonstrated her prowess with short-form narrative, and "Wildfire in Manhattan," a whimsical, if slightly overwrought tale of spiteful old deities, brings nothing to mind more than Gaiman's own American Gods.

Speaking of whom, I suspect a great many will come to Stories for that gentleman's novelette alone, and "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains" does not disappoint. Gaiman introduces us to a man, short, secretive and never named, who seeks "a certain cave on the Misty Isle" where it is rumoured a deathly spectre awaits to grant his heart's desire, and a guide to take him to it. He comes upon Calum MacInnes in "a house that sat like a square of white sky against the green of the grass," and after some bargaining, they venture forth into the ethereal landscape together. Having spent some time in the region himself, Gaiman does the highlands and islands justice, his exposition just florid enough to evoke their timeless attraction, yet retaining that essential component of such stories as this: an ever-present sense of mystery, of the unknown and the unknowable. Gaiman obscures much from the outset, yet his obfuscation never intrudes on the narrative, nor does it seem at all calculated - until an icy breath of revelation in the last act gives chilling context to all that has come before. "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains" is a tale to be read and re-read immediately, so delicate is its construction, its climax so surprising and satisfying.

A sumptuous anthology already, I'm sure you'll agree, and we're only four of twenty-seven stories in. Don't go thinking that's all the big hitters, either: there's Michael Marshall Smith and Joe R. Lansdale to go, Richard Adams and Jodi Picoult, not to mention Peter Straub, Chuck Palahniuk, Diana Wynne Jones, Gene Wolfe, Michael Moorcock, Joe Hill and Gaiman's co-editor in arms, "master anthologist" Al Sarrantonio. And it wouldn't do to give short shrift to those other authors whose tales are wedged between the more household names: there isn't a dud in this bunch. Some, perhaps, work better than others, but everyone brings their A-game to the table.

Be they unknown to you or your favourite writers, the names soon begin to blur from one narrative through to the next, and it is then, as it should be, the stories that shine through. An assassin discusses whether he's been naughty or nice with his intended target; a high-school bully suffers for his sadism thanks to an accidental knife; birds nest in an interplanetary traveler out on a spacewalk; a woman becomes obsessed with a body that no-one believes will be found; a cruel sister communicates her intent to return to the land of the living; after centuries in the shadows, the macabre Cult of the Nose is finally exposed. Stories bridges the gap between genres effortlessly, going from SF to horror to historical fiction with nary a break for you to catch your breath.

There is no right or wrong way to read Stories, as Neil Gaiman says. I hopscotched through from short fiction to long, from one known quantity to another, mysterious to me. But read it you absolutely must. You won't read a more remarkable anthology than this all year. Come to that, it's not likely you'll come across a collection as thorough-bred, as impressive, surprising and impassioned as Stories in the next decade. If all were right with the world, there would be a copy of this astonishing collection on every bookshelf. Young or old, genre or general fiction fan, these tales will stay with you through the night and beyond. Storiesis truly an anthology for the ages.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint hearted, 14 May 2011
By 
Elaine Simpson-long (Colchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stories (Paperback)
I am not a lover of short stories and cannot say I particularly loved this book, but I found it quirky and fun in places and spooky in others. Joanne Harris has a story in this colleciton 'Wildfire in Manhatten' which tells the tale of acient gods living in New York, bit creepy; 'Unwell' by Caroly Parkkurst is about sibling rivalry and I found the ending unsettling and odd; 'Fossil Figures' by Joyce Carol Oates tells the tale of a demon brother feeding off his lesser sibling from the womb onwards - definitely horrid and one by Neil Gaiman himself 'The Truth is a cave in the Black Mountains' which really freaked me out.

This is a mixture of styles and tales which will appeal to your dark side, if you have one, and brilliant though they were in narrative, writing and content, they left me feeling a bit uneasy and with a tendency to check under my bed before switching the light out.....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What happens next?, 19 Jun 2011
By 
Michelle Moore (Dartford, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stories (Paperback)
Roddy Doyle
Jeffrey Deaver
Joanne Harris
Chuck Palahniuk
Jodi Picoult
Peter Straub

These are but a few of the authors who have contributed to Stories - a collection of short stories collected and edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio. In the introduction, Neil explains that they were looking for tales which cause the reader to say '..and then what happened?'; tales which come under the term 'fantasy' but in it's widest form. What they found were a variety of stories, by some great storytellers - not one feels like a failure.

Stories gives us over 400 pages, and includes contributions from no less than 27 authors. They can read in order, dipped into, or you can start by finding your favourites authors first. There's a range to choose from, and some of my highlights were Wildfire in Manhatten, about gods and goddesses living in America; Blood, in which an everyday man discovers a taste for the red stuff; Unbelief, about a very unusual assassination; and Weights and Measures, a quiet story of loss.

Stories was published in hardback in June 2010, and it somehow passed me by. Going by the limited number of reviews on amazon, and the lack of mention at my book forum, I think it's passed others by too. The paperback was published n April 2011, so there's no excuse to let it do so any more. This will appeal to lovers of short stories, as well as those who just enjoy a good story. It's great for holidays, for reading in the bath, and most certainly for re-reading. The only I want to know, is when will we see the next collection... What happens next?!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 11 July 2014
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Absolutely brilliant collection is stories, every single storey is 5 star!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Just stories, 9 May 2014
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This review is from: Stories (Paperback)
was hoping for something along the lines of Alberto Manguel's anthology Black Water - The Book of Fantastic Literature (ISBN-10: 0517552698)

But this in comparison is frankly rather average. Was expecting better given Neil Gaiman's name was on the cover.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, 4 May 2013
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This review is from: Stories (Paperback)
An excellent collection of interesting and quirky stories, ideal for, say, travelling when stop-start reading is required, the usual benefit of short stories.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Hit and miss, 21 Jun 2012
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Amazon Customer (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stories (Kindle Edition)
I really loved some of the stories in this collection, and some I just skipped. Some of the stories are really creepy and strange.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, 15 Sep 2011
By 
simon211175 (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stories (Kindle Edition)
I like short stories, sometimes. They give a good break from full lengthers, and also introduce us to new authors. Unfortunately, as in most short story anthologies, there are good ones and there are bad ones.

My main reason for buying this book, was that there is a story within by Michael Marshall Smith - one of my favourite authors. Turns out however, that his story here is one of my least favourites. Go figure.

There are several stand out good stories in this book, and not one of them was from an author I'd read before, so that's nice. They are as follows:

The Stars Are Falling by Joe R Lansdale: A story about a soldier returning from war to find his old life isn't quite how he remembers. Starts off a bit slow, but I found this to be really good once the story unfolded. Quite predictable though.

Juvenal Nyx by Walter Mosley: Of course there was going to be a vampire story in here somewhere. Well, this is it, and it really is good - even though the vampire isn't an evil one.

Weights and Measures by Jodi Picoult: I would never normally read anything by this author. The genre she writes for holds no appeal for me. This story however, is one of the best in the book. It's really well written, and the subject matter is one that would haunt any parent.

Catch and Release by Lawrence Block: Also quite standard for a short story anthology is the one about a serial killer. here's one, and it's predictable, but reads well.

A Life in Fictions by Kat Howard: A Good story, but I think if I say too much about it then I'd be spoiling the plot for you.

The Therapist by Jeffery Deaver: I thought this one was quite boring at the start, we follow a therapist as he tries to offer help to a single mum. we get quite far in before BANG! the story hits you for six and takes off in a completely different direction.

Human Intelligence by Kurt Anderson: A clever storyline, written well and funny in places.

Of the rest, some were above average, some were okay and some I was really glad to get through. I think my worst however, has to be Polka Dots and Moonbeams by Jeffrey Ford. The story didn't flow well, and I'm pretty sure there had to be some drug taking involved in the planning of this.

Worth the money for the good stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very rich collection, 22 May 2011
This review is from: Stories (Hardcover)
Never judge a book by its cover. Well, whether you do that or not, I have to say that Stories: All-New Tales has the best cover I've ever seen. On it is an illustration of a three-eyed, many-tentacled sea-monster rising out of the ocean and bearing down on a little stick man wielding nothing but a fountain pen. In the UK, the cover is different but my awesome girlfriend got the US edition imported for my birthday. And what a gift it was. Apart from the cover, the book has unevenly cut pages, like crinkle cut crisps. So the presentation of the book is pretty much perfect. But what about the content? Well fear not because the content is so good that you soon forget the trimmings.

I wanted the book because it was edited by Neil Gaiman, one of my favourite authors, but I really didn't expect to be as blown away as I was by the stories inside. All of them are great but some of them are blisteringly good. The remit for the collection was narrative drive and these stories have that in spades. But they are so much more. Some of the stories had my jaw dropping in admiration for their sheer brilliance.

Fossil-Figures by Joyce Carol Oates was my favourite. It appears second and is about two twins. The language and tragedy of the story reminded me of what stories can do to you when they are so perfectly told. You will be blown away by this piece. It's worth the cover price alone - that good.

I'll only take about the stories that really impacted on me and so the next one is Neil Gaiman's The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains. This is as perfectly formed a story as you're ever likely to see. It's about a man who embarks on an odyssey following an incident by which he will be forever haunted.

Weights and Measures by Jodi Picoult is the story of a young couple trying to recover from the death of their daughter. I didn't know if I was being emotionally manipulated by the subject matter but Picoult was unsparing in her dissection of grief. Magnificent.

Loser by Chuck Palahnuik is the most overtly literary piece. His flare for words and imagery are superb and though he is often imitated nowadays his style is still his own. He really gets into the story of a drugged up student appearing on a TV show, a story that somehow reminded me of the film version of Requiem for a Dream. Very cool.

Unwell by Carolyn Pankhurst was just so painful. It's the story of two sisters, one having spent her whole life under the power of the other. It's one of those stories where you are reminded of how cruel people can be, and how you hope you never come across someone who could be like that to you. It's a superb story with a fantastically unreliable narrator.

The Therapist by Jeffery Deaver is written from the point of view of said Therapist and is a great, fun story. With a nasty sting in the tale. Although maybe not as deep as some of the other stories, it rattles along at great pace - just as stories should.

Human Intelligence by Kurt Anderson is a weird and wonderful tale about an alien spy. His base is located beneath the artic ice but, with the thawing of the great icefields, he is about to be uncovered. Here we have a fantastic example of what the imagination can do. The story is absolutely awesome - so inventive and cool. I loved this one. It had a lot of heart.

The last three stories are all immense. Stories by Michael Moorcock is a huge sweeping, thousand-page epic of modern times condensed into a short story. It's about the intertwining relationships of people in the publishing trade and is both stunning and tragic. How he managed to conjure such emotions when telling such a large story in such a small space I'll never know.

The penultimate story in the collection is The Maiden Flight Of McCauley's Bellerophon by Elizabeth Hand. This is the longest story in the whole book but one of the best. It's about a group of guys who head off to a deserted island in Florida to recreate a film that was recently lost in a fire. The film was of a flying contraption that preceded the Wright Brothers. But there's more things at work - chiefly, love lost and alien life. A riveting read that's also very moving.

And then finally there is The Devil On The Staircase by Joe Hill. This is the most strangely formatted story in the book because the text is laid out to look like a staircase climbing down through the story. Such showy tricks must be backed up with clout and Hill does not fail to deliver. It's a beautiful story about a man who lives in a mountain covered in steps, called Sulle Scale. One day he comes across the devil on a forbidden staircase and the devil presents him with a mechanical bird that helps cover up the lies you tell by chirping a mysterious melody. The story is weird but class, and a great close to a phenomenal collection.

I hope many people read this book because whereas some short story collections contain duds, this one is brimming with ideas, invention and the stuff that tells us what it is to be human. It's a mammoth achievement.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book to dip in and out of, 6 May 2011
This review is from: Stories (Hardcover)
What happens when you ask forty two authors 'and then what happened?' Stories - All New Tales is what happens. The book is a collection of short and long stories from such people as Joanne Harris, Michael Marshall Smith, Jodi Picoult, Jeffrey Deaver and Roddy Dole. Edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio, Stories is a book that you can dip in and out of at your leisure and has lots of different genres to keep you entertained. Great to take with you on a short journey and read something from start to finish.
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