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Best American Fantasy 2

by Ann VanderMeer (Editor), Jeff VanderMeer (Editor)

Other authors: Erik Amundsen (Contributor), Kage Baker (Contributor), Peter S. Beagle (Contributor), Matt Bell (Contributor), Aimee Bender (Contributor)15 more, Jedediah Berry (Contributor), Judy Budnitz (Contributor), Matthew Cheney (Editor), Deborah Coates (Contributor), Jeffery Ford (Contributor), David Hollander (Contributor), Kelly Link (Contributor), Miranda Mellis (Contributor), Christian Moody (Contributor), Rick Moody (Contributor), Micaela Morrissette (Contributor), Michelle Richmond (Contributor), M. Rickert (Contributor), Bruce Holland Rogers (Contributor), Rachel Swirsky (Contributor)

Series: Best American Fantasy (2)

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201997,947 (2.5)None
A prestigious new anthology series, Best American Fantasy is guestedited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, with Matthew Cheney serving as the serieseditor. This second volume showcases the best North American fantasy short fictionfrom the preceding year.

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A collection of short pieces of writing, some of which could be termed "fantasy" and a few of which could be termed "stories." Very few are worth reading. The stories by Baker and Swirsky are by far the best, but it's hard to choose what was worst, because there are so many terrible ones to choose from.

As I read each story, I recorded my reaction. Here they are:

Eric Amudsen, "Bufo Rex." The tale of a toad who is tormented by humans. I like the rhythm of the words.

Bruce Holland Rogers, "The Seven Deadly Hotels." Various hotels torment various travelers with each of the seven sins. Clever conceit, but something about the writing annoyed me. The characters are just puppets moved through motions, and they all give in to temptation. I guess I wanted just one that saw through the hotel's obvious manipulations.

Miranda Mellis, "The Revisionist." Surrealist and terrible. Loopy and wacky for no reason I could discern. A nuclear bomb goes off and various random stuff happens. Nonsense is so avant garde!

Kage Baker, "The Ruby Incomparable." The Master of the Mountain (a dark lord who commands armies of demons and ogres) and the Saint of the World (who quite resembled her name) fell in love, married, and had children. One of them was Svnae, whose unquenchable love of power and learning led her into many adventures. A wonderful story about family and individuality.

Aimee Bender, "Interval." An orphan signs up for a sculpting class, but the teacher tells him to sculpt out of sound instead of clay. He falls in love with the sculpter's model, who eventually gives birth to clay sculptures of twelve of his dead relatives. But then! It was all in his head! Yet more surreal run-on sentences trying to be meaningful; I don't like it.

"Memoir of a Deer Woman" by M Rickert. A woman sees a deer killed, and rapidly becomes a deer. It's that style where something completely strange and unexplained happens, and everyone reacts to it as though it's completely normal, even though it clearly isn't. I hate that style and I hated this. The characters have no names or personalities or motives; there is not plot; it's all just an excuse for the author to write lines like "She is finally able to write that there is no sorrow greater than regret, no rapture more complete than despair, no beauty more divine than words, but before writing it, she understands, standing there, amidst the cars and shopping bags, watching all the words spin away, as though she had already died, and no longer owned language, that ordinary, every day, exquisite blessing on which lives are both built, and destroyed."

"In the Middle of the Woods" by Christian Moody. I was annoyed by his author bio (no one cares that you're in a PhD program for English, gah!) but far more annoyed by the story itself, which tries to be surreal and strange and is instead senseless and silly. Maybe I just hate this would-be-literary style too much, but there's something so annoying about reading story after story about characters without names or personalities or reasons.

"Story With Advice II: Back from the Dead" by Rick Moody. Another story I wouldn't really classify as fantasy, but I liked this better than the earlier ones. An (again unnamed!) advice columnist answers problems sent to him in the afterlife. I liked the way his personality and history peek out throughout his answers, and the columnist's writing style is identifiable. Characterization! So what if there's no plot or names or fantasy, at least we're going in the right direction.

"Logorrhea" by Michelle Richmond. A woman whose incessant speech destroys her relationships meets a man covered in beautiful but sharp iridescent scales. He slowly finds ways to cover up the one thing she likes about him, in order to join society like a normal person. I quite liked this. But again with the unnamed characters!

"Ave Maria" by Micaela Morrissette. A magical bird or something? Super boring.

"Chainsaw on Hand" by Deborah Coates. Chel is annoyed that her ex-husband won't stop talking about seeing angels (or maybe fairies. or trolls. He's not sure what they are.) and that her small South Dakota town still expects her to take care of him. THIS contains some believable reactions to surreal experiences, and I really liked Chel's internal grumbling and yearning.

"The Last and Only, or, Mr. Moscowitz Becomes French" by Peter S. Beagle. An ordinary American librarian slowly turns into a Frenchman. He even loses the ability to speak English, and emigrates to France in hopes of finally being home. But there he finds that the people living in France are not French either, and goes in search of the true French. Weird, less fantasy than surreal literature, but still I liked Mrs. Moscowitz and the two presidents.

"Minus, His Heart" by Jedediah Berry. Unreadable. Yet more unnamed main characters, sentence after sentence that don't connect to each other, and a random inexplicable world.

"Abroad" by Judy Budnitz. Two unnamed (as always) tourists visit a country, and one of them rapidly turns into a native while the other watches, befuddled and confused. I am so sick of this surrealist bullshit.

"Mario's Three Lives" by Matt Bell. Super Mario, as told from the point of view of the plumber himself. Poorly written, overused concept.

"The Naming of the Islands" by David Hollander. Unnamed narrator tells us about discovering various islands. No plot, no tension, no characterization, nothing but a series of disgusting islands.

"The Drowned Life" by Jeffrey Ford. Hatch is an insurance claims worker. One day all the considerations of life grow too much for him and he metaphorically (?) drowns and finds himself in a metaphorical (?) Drowned Land where everyone else has ruined lives as well. I have no clue what happened in this story, and after slogging through so many senseless stories before it, I didn't have the patience to puzzle it out.

"Light" by Kelly Link. Lindsey doesn't conform to the stereotypes about people with two shadows: she's not a trouble maker, she's not untrustworthy. She just likes to drink and take care of iguanas. Then a hurricane hits and gives her the opportunity to leave her troublesome twin brother and depressing routine behind. I liked a lot of the writing here, like the descriptions of the incipient hurricane. Lindsey feels realistically complicated, and the world is fantastical but still grounded. Not sure what was going on in this story, though.

"How the World Became Quiet: A Post-Human Creation Myth" by Rachel Swirsky. The apocalypses of the earth, and the ways humanity survived (or didn't). Fucking fantastic. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
VanderMeer, AnnEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
VanderMeer, JeffEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Amundsen, ErikContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baker, KageContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beagle, Peter S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bell, MattContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bender, AimeeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berry, JedediahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Budnitz, JudyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cheney, MatthewEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Coates, DeborahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ford, JefferyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hollander, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Link, KellyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mellis, MirandaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moody, ChristianContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moody, RickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Morrissette, MicaelaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Richmond, MichelleContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rickert, M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rogers, Bruce HollandContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Swirsky, RachelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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A prestigious new anthology series, Best American Fantasy is guestedited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, with Matthew Cheney serving as the serieseditor. This second volume showcases the best North American fantasy short fictionfrom the preceding year.

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