Reviewed by Krista Mckeeth
The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories
Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer: Including a Foreweird by Michael Moorcock and Afterweird by China Mieville.
Paperback, 1152 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Tom Doherty Associates (first published November 1st 2010)
ISBN 0765333627 (ISBN13: 9780765333629)
“110 Stories by the all-star cast of literary legends, including Angela Carter, Michael Chabon, Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Franz Kafka, Stephen King, Kelly Link, George R.R. Martin, Haruki Murakami, and Mervyn Peake.”
Recently here on TaraSharp.com we’ve been branching into more of the Horror and Thriller genres. This was the perfect book in my opinion to lead us because of the variety of feelings you will experience reading this book.
I should start off by stating that this books is a hefty one at about 1116 pages. The VanderMeer’s are not new to writing and putting together collections of short stories like these. Here is a link to their website with a full list of the table of contents: http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/2011/08/30/table-of-contents-the-weird-edited-by-ann-and-jeff-vandermeer/
Although there are several well known writers that Ann and Jeff VanderMeer chose to include in this enormous book of short stories, I found that some of the names that were unknown to me were the stories that I enjoyed the most. A collection like this is a great way to discover new writers.
Weird is a collection of ghost stories, psychological mind benders, zombies, unusual behaviours and all out creepy from authors writing in the early 1900′s to current day. I was happy to see stories from Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft who are some of my personal favourites.
Margo Lanagan’s Singing My Sister Down is a story of a small town which utilizes the local tar pit for various reasons, from warming your feet in the winter, to enacting the death penalty on criminals. The latter was the focus of this story. Today is Ikky’s last day and her family has gathered around the tar pit to sit, sing songs and eat while she slowly sinks into the ground. The townspeople stop by throughout the day, as does the Sheriff, to make sure the job is completed. The story evokes emotions reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. A melancholy tale that shows a very caring family who stands by Ikky until the end.
One story that also stood out for me, that was not as long or as weird as some of the others, was White Rabbits by Leonora Carrington. I actually exclaimed aloud “that was weird” after reading it. A house that has never been restored after a fire is seemingly still occupied. One day a woman yells over to her neighbour, asking her if she has any rotting food, and that if she gets some soon, would she mind sharing it with her. Out of curiosity, the neighbour buys some meat and lets it rot, eventually taking the meat next door and discovering some very unusual activities happening within the home.
One of the best things about a dense and hand-picked collection like this, is that you get a taste of diverse authors throughout time, and a handful of different genres all in one place. It’s a book that will keep you entertained for hours. There are stories that will have you giggling, scratching your head, and some that are so thought provoking, you’ll find yourself thinking about the stories long after you’ve finished reading.