A collection of short stories by top authors? Yes, please. A literary buffet for sampling the skills of different wordsmiths, with some nice art by the stylish Mr Chaykin. Somebody had a good idea there.
Glen David Gold provides an amusing little tale of an elephant and revenge. Elmore Leonard and the Old West is a sure-fire winner, and this little story of justice is no different. Neil Gaiman’s Closing Time is a classy ghost story, told in his usual charming style.
Nick Hornby provides an odd tale of a boy with fast forward on television and what happens when it no longer fast forwards. Stephen King seems to have given Chabon permission to include a chapter from Dark Tower, with all the irritating vocal tics of the unexplained characters,which seems to defeat the aim of the book of providing complete tales in one.
An interesting, fun tale of time-bending and writing comes from Chris Offutt, an author I’ve never heard of before. Dave Eggers, I’ve heard of him, tells a travelogue of a woman climbing Kilimanjaro; the tale is nothing remarkable but the telling is enjoyable.
Ghost Dance by Sherman Alexie tells an enjoyable tale of the Seventh Cavalry rising from the grave and the investigator who finds the answer, although the ending seemed a little flat. The winner of the story that impressed me the most goes to Michael Moorcock’s story of Sir Seaton Begg – I’ve never read his work before, although I’ve read about him, but this made me want to read more of his work NOW.
There is a slight story by Harlan Ellison, and a long story by Rick Moody that kept going on that I couldn’t bother to finish. But there is a big finish from Chabon himself, in the start of a big adventure tale, The Martian Agent, A Planetary Romance’, a romp of alternate history/boys own adventure. All in all, a very satisfying collection. Three cheers for McSweeney’s; why not help them out and buy something?