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Collection Thoughts

For some unknown reason, I feel like reading Howard Waldrop lately. It's a bit of a strangeness, really, because Waldrop does nothing for me largely speaking.

It's like that sometimes, though. Everyone is on the bandwagon and you're sitting on the curb, wondering what all the fuss is about. I'm on the curb a whole lot more than most, or so it seems, since a lot of things don't grab me but others all get excited about. I guess I'm just lucky like that. Still, with Waldrop it's nothing in particular, just the taste quota not being met, since what I've read of his has always been well crafted. I own a copy of Night of the Cooters, a collection from the late eighties, and which was published by Legend, a division of Random House, I think. It's not round now, but it points to this time when collections came out from large publishing houses, and all was shiny and pretty and money rained from the sky. It was the 80s, you know? Anyhow, I found it in the late nineties in a bookstore in Sydney and, I believe, on the recommendation on someone. Possibly Bill Congreve.

I liked 'Night of the Cooters' enough. The story is one of Waldrop's better known ones and is about a bunch of hicks and H.G. Wells' aliens from War of the Worlds, but from the collection, that was all I read. A couple of his things appeared in year's best books I was reading, or magazines, or something, and I just read enough Waldrop at the time to not want any more, so the collection sat on the bookshelf yellowing. You know how it is. Still, I picked up the collection after about seven, eight years, which is what I like about collections, that dip in and out factor, and what I started reading where his introductions to the stories, which are pretty cool.

It got me thinking about collections. I like collections, but what I really like in a collection are those introductions to stories, or conclusions (I do prefer them after the story, as is often the case in the Golden Gryphon collections). I like introductions from semi famous people at the start, but they can be a mixed bag, really, and I've read some shocking ones--my favourites for bad intros have always been the Tori Amos and Claire Danes introductions for the Death collections--so those don't mean a whole lot to me, but the author notes, I want them. If a collection doesn't have those notes, I tend to feel that it's a lesser beast, that it's somewhat incomplete, and that maybe I've been ripped off a little.

I don't know why this is, but it is.


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Mar. 27th, 2006 02:37 am (UTC)
I've always been able to see the appeal of Waldrop, but never personally warmed to his stuff. He seemed an amazingly nice guy when he was Guest of Honour at Swancon 22, however, and I believe may even have fixed the convention convenor's door while he was in Perth.
Mar. 27th, 2006 03:51 am (UTC)
wow. fixing a door. i don't reckon i could do that.
Mar. 27th, 2006 11:55 am (UTC)
fixed my back door and helped jump start a pal's car. Also fly-fished the length of matilda bay. He refused to take the full amount of expenses we'd offered to pay him, so we bought a Shaun Tan original and posted it to him so he couldn't return it. A swell guy.

It's a damn shame his work is so hard to find, cos I reckon you'd get a kick from his first couple of collections - "The Ugly Chickens" is still a damn fine story.

So you'll buy several copies of TROY then? It has a cool intro by Garth Nix, an afterword by me and little afterwords to each story, good value all round.

Though I must ask: at the end of the day would you rather see the interstitial notes or another story?
Mar. 27th, 2006 12:08 pm (UTC)
Though I must ask: at the end of the day would you rather see the interstitial notes or another story?

the notes, for sure.

collections feel like they should be more personal. almost as if the author has to be the link that ties them all together, though of course there are other ways to do this. but i like to feel the presence of the author in short fiction. it gives it intimacy.

of course, some authors kinda suck at this, so sometimes it's better not to have them.
Mar. 28th, 2006 06:20 pm (UTC)
The best introduction I've ever read was to a certain edition of The Moon Maid by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Terry Bisson wrote it, and he pretty much savaged the book itself, but by the end of the introduction, it became clear that he was writing the introduction like it belonged to a book of serious prophetic science fiction, as opposed to pulp, and that all of Burroughs's "theories" had come true since in the years since it was written. It sort of became a subtle story of his own that he slipped into the book.
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