Review: The Lone Star Stories Reader, edited by Eric T. Marin

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Lone Star Stories Reader (cover)

The Lone Star Stories Reader
edited by Eric T. Marin

LSS Press, 2008
284 pages, ISBN 098178190X

// WARNING: gushing follows.

If you've read any issue of the long-established webzine Lone Star Stories, you've seen it's not tied to Texas in any particular way (the introduction to this collection helps explain how that came about).  If you've not yet read an issue of LSS, you're missing out.

Having been familiar with LSS for a few years, now, and being an especial fan of the /printed/ word, I was thrilled to hear editor, slush-reader and fastest rejecter in the business Eric Marin was bringing out a collection.  "The Lone Star Stories Reader" contains fifteen stories ranging considerably in length, for a grand total of two hundred sixty pages.  These are all stories that originally appeared online at LSS between 2004 and 2008, all of which can still be read online.  But for those of you who prefer your fiction in a tactile form, I heartily recommend this handsomely-presented book.

With most collections, you expect a few clunkers--pieces that don't resonate with you as much as they might with someone else.  I felt this anthology had been prepared with me in mind.  The stories are inventive; some toy with you, some slap you around, some curl up next to you and purr sweet demands.  My only complaint might be that the occasional denouement was more ethereal than I would have liked.

Since they are all exquisitely written, here's some picks to give you a taste for the variety.

"The Frozen One" by Tim Pratt might just blow your mind: a visitor from "someplace else.  Sort of a kingdom next door" steps into our reality to tell a parable.  "It's like, if you teach a kid to play chess, he doesn't just learn how to play chess, he learns how to think a certain way."  They're training us--"there's some bad stuff happening there, way more complicated [...], but there might be some ... refugees."  The parable's an engaging moral tale as well--I loved it, and I have a thing against moral tales.

"The Disembowler" by Ekaterina Sedia is a beautifully inventive piece about a being running around disemboweling cars and appliances. I was skeptical a few paragraphs in, but everything was explained far better than I could have asked for, and the logic was consistent as well as surprising.

"A Night in Electric Squidland" by Sarah Monette is a strange dystopian paranormal detective story set in the bowels of a BDSM nightclub, an otherworld that feels here-and-now except for the magic suffusing it.

"Seasonal Work" by Nina Kiriki Hoffman is an exceptionally brief piece of mystic realism (or perhaps there's no genre involved--that's almost up to the reader) set at a gift-wrapping station.

"Angels of a Desert Heaven" by Marguerite Reed sets up the question of the place of gods and culture in a land with cultures both melted together and oddly segregated; it's a poignant tale that spreads itself across several, including those of rock music stardom and fortune telling.

There is so much beauty here, densely packed yet woven like gossamer thread.  Buy a copy for yourself and one for a friend who needs a touch more beauty in their lives.

Disclaimer: I've been shooting to get my own works in Eric Marin's table of contents for some time now.

- reddit, digg, facebook, stumbleupon, etc... please! ;)
posted by kaolin

14 comments; 8 subscribers

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 / 00:38:43
I'm going to be a bit cheeky with this raffle.

TO ENTER TO WIN OUR COPY, TELL US ... ABOUT A SHORT STORY YOU READ RECENTLY THAT MOVED YOU! It'll count as a second entry if you mention something published in GUD. ;) Entries will be considered through Monday, December 1, 2008 (midnight, pacific time). Open to anyone in the US/Canada.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008 / 15:21:44
I just finished "The Calvin Coolidge Home for Dead Comedians" by Bradley Denton in the June 1988 issue of F&SF. Great stuff! It was nominated for a Hugo and Nebula back in the day. I think it's rare to have this much comedy (successful comedy) in an F/SF piece. Since the story came out when I was 12, it took me until about halfway through to realize the main characters were Lenny Bruce and John Belushi. Very fun read, if you can get ahold of it.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008 / 17:40:30
Just finished "All the Lies That Are My Life" by Harlan Ellison. Could name any number of moving Ellison stories, but "Lies" stands out the most right now.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008 / 19:08:16
elijah avery touching heatrwarming story i highly recommend it
Tuesday, November 18, 2008 / 23:54:13
The last short story I read that moved me was called "Directions" published by Maps.Google.Com. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it yet, but it starts with a green Tacoma getting on I-10 in Houston, and ends with that same Tacoma pulling into a hotel parking lot in New Orleans 5 hours later.It moved me a good 350 miles and I would recommend it to anyone interested in moving in that same direction.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008 / 00:15:08
I cried like a baby after reading Elijah.
Sunday, November 30, 2008 / 14:31:35
"The Bear Came Over the Mountain" by Alice Munro which was the basis for the film "Away From Her".
Sunday, November 30, 2008 / 15:53:06
cinnamon by neil gaiman
Monday, December 1, 2008 / 17:12:40
The Great Gilly Hopkins.
Monday, December 1, 2008 / 19:09:36
Does it count if it moved me in a bad way? I just read one called Undercover Claus from the book Merry Christmas, Baby and I absolutely hated it. There are six short stories in there and that is my least favorite so far. If it was designed to spread Christmas spirit, it failed. I was just completely annoyed throughout. So yes, I was moved, but I was moved to throw the book away.
Monday, December 1, 2008 / 20:46:50
I just read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving. It really is a lot different from the Disney movie. I enjoyed it because it was a little bit of history.
Monday, December 1, 2008 / 23:01:44
I read the Gift of the Magi by O Henry and thought it was touching.
Monday, December 15, 2008 / 15:00:58
Congratulations to yohanna, our randomly selected winner! And just a note to everyone--there's almost always a raffle going on here, do check out our other reviews! :)
Wednesday, April 8, 2009 / 16:57:52
And in an odd twist of things (given that the TOC of the LSSR was freely available via the website to begin with), there is now a freely available download of the PDF of same!….pdf">Download Here

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