Once & Future

Charlotte Ashley – Book seller, collector, writer, editor, historian

April 8, 2011

I can YOSS too!

A bunch of smart and dedicated persons (I hesitate to say “ladies”, but I think they might all be ladies) have declared 2011 to be the Year of the Short Story.  Now while I don’t think I am very likely to want to spend a year reading nothing but short stories (which is not, by the way, what they are suggesting), I can’t argue with their aim:  to bring short fiction to a larger audience.

Once upon a time I was a heavy short story reader. I am now a light short story reader. The last anthology I read was I read was Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio’s Stories, which I’d say was a mixed success.  It certainly contained a couple stories I just loved (notably Neil Gaiman’s The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains and Michael Moorcock’s Stories), and at least one I want to go back to (Jeffrey Ford’s Polka Dots and Moonbeams). But it also had it’s share of silly, hackneyed stories featuring overdone themes – like Walter Mosley’s Juvenal Nyx (oh good, another angsty, vampire-with-a-soul story) and Joanne Harris’s Wildfire in Manhattan (gods of old WALK AMONG US).

But this is the nice thing about short stories. Even within one collection, you can taste such a variety of persons, places and ideas. They’re easy to dip into and out of, and to go back to. Any collection is bound to have at least one story you’d recommend to a friend, whereas I’m not sure I’d ever recommend a chapter of a book to anyone. They offer a level of accessibility without triviality.

I’ll put my money where my mouth is – per YOSS suggestion #1, I am buying more short stories. And last night, this came in the mail!

Check it out – my Limited Edition (59/300) copy of Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die ed. Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo & David Malki ! I’ll be honest, I don’t know any of the authors, but each story is illustrated by a cartoonist, many of whom I am a big fan of.  But no, I didn’t buy it for the pictures. That might have been an excuse (that and the Certificate of Predicted Death), but it’s also a chance for me to sample stories by a variety of writers who I might otherwise never encounter, as recommended to me by cartoonists I trust. And, you know, then there’s the pictures. And the chance to have them all signed next month at TCAF.

The short story world is full of fun gems like this! I hope you’ll seek one or two out this year too. Sometimes the most interesting reads are off the beaten track [of novels]!

2 thoughts on “I can YOSS too!”

  1. Steph says:

    Hey, fellow YOSSer! :) Great post.

    You always buy the most interesting books. I’ve never heard of this one you just got! But boy, doesn’t the title sound intriguing.

    1. Charlotte says:

      I have to admit, this one sucked me in by offering a limited edition. I was a little indifferent to it for a few months (“meh, maybe, if they have it at TCAF…”) but the minute they announced a LE it was a MUST HAVE! I was the same way with The Sentimentalists – if that Gaspereau edition hadn’t been in such short supply, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to buy it.

      Collector first, I suppose! And there’s a lesson to be learned here for publishers who want my money – just tell me there’s a limited number of something and I will throw money at you. :/

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