Saturday, January 24, 2009

Envelope Pushing

Usually it takes me something like six months to read a whole collection or anthology - I dip into them, a story at a time, and always have too many on the go at once. But over the last two days I've devoured the World Fantasy Award-winning Tiny Deaths by Robert Shearman.

The last time I read a collection of stories that moved me this much was many years ago, when I bought a copy of Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson and had my world shaken. Lofty company, you might think, but Shearman's book really is that good.

A consumate craftsman with the short form, the author takes a little urban fantasy, a dash of horror, a slice of surrealism, and a hefty shot of philisophical idea-making, shakes it all up and delivers a unique experience which pushes at the edges of genre fiction, forcing them to break. I'm not a man prone to hyperbole (God knows, the small press is much too full of that already), but this collection of stories is damn near perfect.

I urge you to buy, beg, borrow or steal a copy (buying might be best, considering the legalities). This is short fiction as it was meant to be: intimate, epic, brimming with wit and ideas...and, yes, even a little bit life-changing. Shearman's work has certainly made me examine the way I feel about fiction.


Rob Shearman said...

Thanks, Gary - that means a lot to me, especially coming from a writer who's work I've enjoyed so much as well! (Working my way through Best New Horror at the sec, and thought Pumpkin Night was fab!)

Michael Kelly said...

Gary, this sounds like my cup of tea. Thanks for the heads up.

Gary Mc said...

Rob - many thanks! Hope my gushing praise didn't embarrass you. :-)

Anonymous said...

So many books and so little time.
And lately, so little money.
This shopping list of things to read is getting really long. Thanks for the suggestions

GaryMcMahon said...

That's fine. Now what we need is renewed interest in anthologies of creative nonfiction such as New Journlaism, whose potential never was exhausted. I say that with a vested interest.