Twenty authors write in a hodgepodge of genres, in issue ten of McSweeney’s quarterly.
“I think that we have forgotten how much fun reading a short story can be, and I hope that if nothing else, this treasury goes some small distance toward reminding us of that lost but fundamental truth,” says editor Chabon. There’s certainly variety to this treasury: Glen David Gold’s hanging of an elephant is just the beginning of weirdness in a story that goes on to postulate that man-killing elephants the country over may be avengers of African murders long kept in elephant memory. Michael Crichton weighs in with a Chandleresque p.i. who loses his fee when he photographs the wrong thief for a client, then loses his girlfriend, then loses his sobriety. Chris Offutt contributes an amusing SF/ghost story/semi-memoir about a writer trying to produce a story for a collection edited by Michael Chabon, eventually getting so close to the deadline that he has to use a time machine to go back in time to inspire himself. Harlan Ellison’s spiritual search for the Core of Unquenchable Perfection will find hip-hop at the mountaintop, and the golden arches awaiting him. Aimee Bender adds a pseudo-detective who is investigating a couple found dead amid their collection of salt and pepper shakers: Is it double murder, or double suicide? Other pieces include mummies (Karen Jay Fowler), Nazis (Michael Moorcock), dream women (Sherman Alexie), and witches (Kelly Link). Unlike Henry James’s ghost stories—where genre was always used to access the literary—the emphasis here is on fun: but what about those who ask for more than that?
Still, talent galore, and well worth the price of admission.