Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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VanderMeer's Secret Life.

At Fantastic Metropolis is free fiction from Jeff VanderMeer. There's a novelette*, three short flash pieces, and a bit of non fiction.

The novelette is called 'Secret Life' and is taken from VanderMeer's collection of the same title. It's a good collection, but I say this while also admitting that I haven't read it all. This isn't a slight on the collection, by the by, rather it's my reading habits. My average time for reading an anthology or single author collection of short fiction is about a year. I dip in and out, mix them up, go left, right, up, down, to shelves, to tables, to afternoons, mornings, midnight... in short, whenever I get the itch. This is why I love collections and anthologies: there's no huge demand for my time and I can jump all around the place. If I were being truthful when people ask me what I'm reading, I'd have to say that I was in the middle of about six or eight books, and that I'm not reading the stories in order. It's freedom. It is, from what I also understand, somewhat abnormal.

That's why I haven't finished Secret Life (and why I rarely review collections on this blog), but I'm happy to recommend it based off what I have. VanderMeer has a rich, intricate style, and I enjoy reading it regardless of content. The first book of VanderMeer's that I read was City of Saints and Madmen which was a collection of novellas linked by being set in the fictional city Ambergis, and which I read straight through and thought was fantastic. Because of this, however, I tend to find VanderMeer more interesting when he's working with a larger space and his short-short fiction doesn't much grab me. In Secret Life there is a mix of long and short pieces, and the rule has pretty much been kept about long and short. Incidently, my favourite piece from the collection is actually 'Secret Life', which is online.

The small flash pieces there are from a project called Secret Lives, which VanderMeer is working on. They're cool, but I have doubts about how fulfilling they will be to read in an entire book. Still, I like what VanderMeer does enough that I'll pick it up when it comes out, and you can't argue with that.

* I guess at the size of the story. It's over the limit for a short story, but beyond that...

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