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VINE VOICEon 15 September 2011
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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on 17 December 2015
A diverse collection of short stories with a common theme; "what happened next?".
Well, not strictly true, as some of them just leave you feeling pensive, uneasy, or even just plain "warm", such as "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon", which is one of the most beautiful stories I think I've ever read.
Start at the beginning and work your way through, or pluck out a story to fit the time you have in your busy life.
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on 4 December 2016
Excellent book, arrived in good condition. Cheers!
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on 11 May 2015
My daughter who lives in America introduced me to Neil Gaiman when I visited her a year ago. Since then I have read all his current stories. This was not as good as the others but still readable
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on 11 July 2014
Absolutely brilliant collection is stories, every single storey is 5 star!
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on 21 June 2012
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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on 9 May 2014
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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VINE VOICEon 19 June 2011
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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VINE VOICEon 14 May 2011
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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on 7 June 2010
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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