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.