Thursday, June 19, 2008

Outside of a Dog, #13

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

A Collection of Collections - Fiction, by One Author

Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, Kurt Vonnegut

Famous for Slaughterhouse-Five and other novels, this book is a collection of short stories Vonnegut submitted to magazines like Cosmopolitan and Playboy in the 1950s. Some of them are gems - like "Runaways" and "Hal Irwin's Magic Lamp" - all of them are worth reading!

Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions, Neil Gaiman (see also: Angels and Visitations, Fragile Things)

It's no surprise that the writer of this blog loves Neil Gaiman. Smoke and Mirrors is not his first collection (that honor falls to Angels and Visitations), but it is a great step into Gaiman's amazing works. Try "Chivalry" first, and make sure to read "Murder Mysteries," which was first recorded in audio and later made into a graphic novel with art by P. Craig Russell.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Sherman Alexie

Usually a must on any college American Literature list, these are short stories about how the traditions of Native Americans on the Coeur D’Alene Indian Reservation in Washington mesh (or don’t) with pictures of modern American life. Some sad, some funny, if you haven’t read it, try “The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor” or “Because My Father Always Said He Was the Only Indian Who Saw Jimi Hendrix Play "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Woodstock.”

Mother Aegypt and other Stories, Kage Baker and Mike Dringenberg

Baker, a Nebula award nominee presents the reader with thirteen stories of strange delights and desires in Mother Aegypt. Each is fascinating in its own way, odd, and each takes a twisting turn away from what you’d expect.

The Golden Apples of the Sun, Ray Bradbury

Bradbury, considered by many to be a master of science fiction (he wrote Fahrenheit 451 in 1953), was the author of more than 500 short stories. This is just one collection, which includes tales of murder and silence, of far-off planets and weird weather.

Second Variety, Philip K. Dick (see also: The Minority Report, The Eye of the Sibyl)

Best known for “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” the book that the movie Blade Runner was based off of, Dick was also a writer of many short stories that have experienced a new renaissance with the movie “Minority Report” being released in theaters in 2002. Second Variety is the third collection of stories by this prolific science fiction author, and the stories here are meant to make the reader think and challenge themselves about tough subjects, like the battle between man and technology.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Outside of a Dog, #12

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

A Collection Obsession

"The Seven Stages of Falling in Love with an Author" by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes, shown here with permission from Overdue Media, LLC, all rights reserved.

What better way to read more of what your favorite author has written, or to discover a new author, than by reading a collection of short stories or essays? Here’s a list of some great collections you might want to check out:

By Several Authors:

Firebirds by Diana Wynne Jones, et al/Firebirds Rising by Sharyn November

These two books are collections of original science fiction and fantasy, featuring works by Emma Bull, Nancy Farmer, Tanith Lee, and Nina Kiriki Hoffman.

The Essential Bordertown, edited by Terri Windling

Written in the mid-eighties, the Bordertown/Borderlands books operated on a shared-world theory: The world of Bordertown, where humans, elves, and all sorts of otherkin share a world where magic and technology don't always see eye to eye. There are several books and short story collections based here (many are out of print now), but this is the best guide and a great place to find amazing authors like Midori Snyder and Will Shetterly.

Many Bloody Returns, Jim Butcher, Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner

13 new vampire stories are presented here, all sharing the theme of everything that can go supernaturally wrong on your birthday.

(See also: My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding & My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon, both edited by P.N. Elrod)

Prom Nights from Hell, Meg Cabot, Stephenie Meyer, Kim Harrison, and Lauren Myracle

Think your Prom night was Hell? Try being a demon huntress, or a girl who accidentally brings her Prom date back from the grave! These stories are short and sweet - they're a YA collection, but fun for adults, too.

Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things That Aren't as Scary, Maybe, Depending on How You Feel About Lost Lands, Stray Cellphones, Creatures from the Sky, Parents Who Disappear in Peru, a Man Named Lars Farf, and One Other Story We Couldn't Quite Finish, So Maybe You Could Help Us Out, from the editors at McSweeney’s

The title tells you everything about this book of short stories by famous authors like Neil Gaiman and Lemony Snicket. McSweeney's is an Internet humor site, whose contributors also often write short stories and add their unique spin on politics and everyday things at the website.

Speaking With the Angel, edited by Nick Hornby

From the author of High Fidelity comes this collection of tales to benefit the UK-based TreeHouse, a school for autistic children (Hornby's son is autistic, which is what caused him to set this book up.)

Guys Write for Guys Read, edited by Jon Sciezska

Kids don't read anymore? Here's a great book to get them started, especially boys. This book is a collection of stories by-guys-for-guys, as edited by the author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.

Next Time: Fiction Collections by One Author

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Outside of a Dog, #11

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

Knitting has recently enjoyed a rebirth in popularity. If you experience the urge to put down your knitting needles and read, here are several recent books feature knitting in their theme.

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs – A single mom runs a Manhattan yarn shop while raising her 12 year old daughter. When the child’s father comes back into their lives, complications follow.

Fic Jacobs – WCV WAM

The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood – While mourning the death of her young daughter a woman takes her mother’s suggestion and joins a knitting group.

Fic Hood – TPL SHL

Knitting: A Novel by Ann Bartlett –A self-involved woman learns the value of friendship. A rather literary read dealing with a variety of emotions.

Fic Bartlett ROG ROK SHL TPL

The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber – A woman opens a knitting shop and the various customers provide the cast of characters. This is the first novel in what has turned out to be a popular series. A Good Yarn and Back on Blossom Street have followed.

Fic Macomber WCV WMB WDB