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The Odditorium: Stories by Melissa Pritchard
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The Odditorium: Stories

by Melissa Pritchard

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I received a copy of this book free in the same package as an Early Reviewers book.

As with any collection of short stories, there are some hits and some misses. I only highly recommend "Patricide" and "The Nine-Gated City." Some of the more experimental stories, such as "The Hauser Variations," are interesting but not particularly enjoyable to read. ( )
  sparemethecensor | Feb 8, 2015 |
Ms. Pritchard can pack some feelings into a short story. Each of these little tasty treats is so fully packed that it almost comes off as time travel when she changes course. They also leave you wanting to look up the characters to see if they existed because she fills their presence with details that do not seem possible to make up. I’m not one for short stories, but she put in everything essential to make them all come alive, and they continue to exist in my memory like dear old friends. ( )
  catscritch | May 14, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Odditorium is very much the collection of distinct works to be considered at artistic instillation that the name implies. Pritchard's stylistic range within this collection is very impressive, though familiar to me as "serious literature" forms. I found a kind of dour comfort in how well constructed and grand the language was.

Stories contained herein bring the physical realities back to a story of divine madness, the smallness of the legendary versions of frontier luminaries (Buffalo Bill, Sitting Bull, Annie Oakley) compared with the probable largeness of their reality. These stories exhibit a kind of weary cynicism in exposing the shallowness or lack of character behind the polished exteriors of their main characters. There are very few "good" people in evidence, but very few one-note characters either.

Reading the collection engaged more of the "uncomfortably reflective art piece" sections of my mind than the "lose myself in a story" sections. ( )
  storyjunkie | Apr 28, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I found these stories easier to take one at a time, over a space of time since they were intensely dark. Annie Oakley, Robert LeRoy Ripley, and Kaspar Hauser are true people who are featured in some of the stories. One of the things that struck me as I read these stories is the amazing number of commas used, whether this is common in good literature or not, I couldn't say, but it became annoying, and not a little intrusive, as I read. (See what I mean?) I found I had to reread sentences to remember what the basic point was.

The last story was about an American journalist trying to get information about how young girls are sold or abducted into virtual slavery in the sex trade of India. Her first contact is a woman who has made it her personal mission to rescue as many of these girls as possible. The further she delves into the subject, and the more she travels around Delhi, the harder it is to justify her pampered and sheltered life.

Pritchard brings the reader into some dark corners of the world around us. ( )
  mamzel | Apr 22, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It has taken me some time to review this book of short stories. Sometimes it takes me a long time to get through a book of short stories because I like to savor them, but that wasn't necessarily the case with this collection. When I received this book, I devoured the first two stories that first day. I still haven't gone back to read the others though. I'm not sure why. Perhaps I'm frightened of what they might contain.

The first story, "Pelagia, Holy Fool" was mind-bending. It's one of those short stories that kind of stops your heart. It makes you wonder, does insanity mask a certain lucidity? Have the so-called "mad" people throughout history been privy to mysteries of the universe most of us can never hope to discover?

The second story, "Watanya Ciclia," was amazing too. I'm still haunted by this story of Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, and the heartbreaking genocide of the American Indians. This story made me cry, and not just in a tears welling up in my eyes sort of way. It made me truly weep in a heaving, sobbing kind of way. It's a brave exploration on the myth of the American West. I don't want to say too much about it other than "read it." This tale can't be summarized, only experienced.

I will definitely read the rest of these stories, but I will wait until the I'm in the right frame of mind. I was incredibly impressed with the two stories I read, but they hit me very hard and tapped into emotions that were almost overwhelming in their intensity. This is historical fiction like I've never experienced it. There are some beautiful images in this book, but the ones I remember the most are not so pretty. I really have to hand it to Melissa Pritchard for writing a book that is simultaneously compelling and uncomfortable to read. Superb writing.
  Belletrist | Apr 19, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
“The stories in this strange and original collection bend genres—horror, mystery, Western—into wondrous new shapes.”

One of "Ten Titles to Pick up Now"
added by blpbooks | editO, The Opran Magazine (Jan 1, 2012)
 
“The Odditorium is a dazzling wonderment, its cast drawn from the far-flung corners of history and imagination, its language crystalline and high-voltage, its stories fearless and even visionary. Here is an irresistible curiosity cabinet of the famous, the infamous, the mysterious, the half-forgotten—conjured with prodigious empathy, wit, and energy by one of our finest writers. Melissa Pritchard is a treasure and this book is her glorious trove.”
added by blpbooks | editBradford Morrow
 
“Melissa Pritchard has her GPS set to find the how it is—out there and in the heart—and she makes her way forward with her language on high alert. The prose is rhythmically astute, finely pitched, serving both imagination and witness.”
added by blpbooks | editSven Birkerts
 
"Melissa Pritchard is a writer of immense talent."
added by blpbooks | editPeter Straub
 
"Melissa Pritchard's prose, that darkly lyrical firmament, is brightened by the dizzy luminous arrangement of her stars and satellites, her great gifts to us: humor, irony, kindness, brilliance."
added by blpbooks | editAntonya Nelson
 
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Listen, wicked children! When une jeune slut-fille dirties her own halo, simple folks cast stones, and it takes the baroque and obstinate solemnity of God to bring them to their knees before a creature of such dire humility.
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Book description
In each of these eight genre-bending tales, Melissa Pritchard overturns the conventions of mysteries, westerns, gothic horror, and historical fiction to capture surprising and often shocking aspects of her characters' lives.

In one story, Pritchard creates a pastiche of historical facts, songs, and tall tales, contrasting the famed figures of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, including Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull, with the real, genocidal history of the American West. Other stories are inspired by the mysterious life of Kaspar Hauser, a haunted Victorian hospital where the wounded of D-Day are taken during World War II, and the story of Robert LeRoy Ripley of "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" and his beguiling "odditoriums," told from the perspective of his lifelong fact checker.
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Presents a collection of eight short stories involving historical settings and time periods, with such real-life characters as Buffalo Bill, Edgar Allan Poe, and Somerset Maugham in gothic or horror settings.

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