Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Short Story Monday - The Very Best of Charles de Lint Part 8 and 9

At turns whimsical, dark, and mystical, this extraordinary collection of retold fairy tales and new, modern myths redefine the boundaries of magic. Compiling favored stories suggested by the author and his fans, this delightful treasury contains the most esteemed and beloved selections that de Lint has to offer. Innovative characters in unexpected places are the key to each plot: playful Crow Girls who sneak into the homes of their sleeping neighbors; a graffiti artist who risks everything to expose a long-standing conspiracy; a half-human girl who must choose between her village and her strange birthright; and an unrepentant trickster who throws one last party to reveal a folkloric tradition. Showcasing some of the finest offerings within the realms of urban fantasy and magical realism, this essential compendium of timeless tales will charm and inspire.
You would think we did not know the days of the week, but I assure you we do. We are just a couple days late! Well, for the second part. So, here is another edition of my buddy read with Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings.

Stories Read This Week:
'In the Pines'
'Pixel Pixies'
'Many Worlds are Born Tonight'
'Pal o' Mine'
That Was Radio Clash'

Part 8: Questions that Carl Asked:

1. "In the Pines" seems to invite trying a different perspective when looking back at one's life and one's dreams. What do you think of the message in this story?
This story has ruminated around in my mind for a while. I was entirely sure if I received the message that de Lint was trying to get across. The woman in this story had big dreams starting out, but never really lived up to them the way that she hoped. It was starting to get her down, but a visit from an important person from her past puts everything back into perspective. I think people need that once in a while. They are so fixated on the dreams they have when they are children, that they refuse to change them when they are an adult. She was thinking she was a failure, but she was just not concentrating on the right things.

2. "Pixel Pixies" had a couple of wonderful thoughts about books and reading in it, particularly "Wise and clever humans..." on page 303 and the first paragraph on page 315. Pick one (and for the sake of our readers type out that small section, and then discuss it if you would. (I'll choose whichever one you don't pick).
Wise and clever humans had used some marvelous spells to imbue each book with every kind of story and character you could imagine, and many you couldn't. If you knew the key to unlock the words, you could experience them all.
This was a delightful story. I believe the basic idea has been expanded on in the novel Spirits in the Wire. This one, though, has a strong bookish connection because it takes place in a bookstore. This speaks to the idea of being able to read. At one point, Dick, was unable to read. When he learned how to it opened up a whole new world to him. To him, this was magic. The ability to read is magical, though. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to go a large percentage of your life without being able to read. When you just look at the pages and see gibberish, it does seem like magic that people can make sense of these things.

It reminds me of an episode of Oprah. There was a man on there and by the time he was on the show, he was around 100 years old. He had spent his entire life not being able to read, but at the age 98 (I think) was given the opportunity. This story has always stuck with me because I think it is an excellent example of the magic of reading, but also the idea that you are never to old to experience something new.

3. "Many Worlds are Born Tonight" has some science fictional elements in the concept of multiple universes being created by our decisions. What do you think of that idea either in general or particularly in light of the protagonist and some of the decisions he did or did not make?
This story was interesting. I like the idea that when something happens, each possible answer to it starts its own universe. Then, you really could make any of the decisions. At first, it quite went over my head because it was a strange idea, but I have come around to it now. It still opens up some big questions, though, because of course you are thinking about whether or not it is possible and then thinking about your own life and how there could be more than one of you, and then it sort of hurts the head.

Part 9: Questions That I Asked:

1. What did you think of the vampire story 'Sisters' compared to the popular vampire novels out nowadays?
This was actually a rather good vampire story. I am getting tired of paranormal-type stuff, but this turned out to not bother me that badly. It was an interesting enough twist that it kept me reading. The story is narrated by a vampire and then you also see her sisters side of things, too. The main character did not have a choice to become a vampire, but she is offering her sister the chance to join her. I think he handled things well enough that it was believable. He changed the 'normal' beliefs about vampires, but not so insanely that it will drive you nuts.

2. This is one of those stories that I am not really sure what specific question to ask, so I will have to just ask what you thought of the story 'Pal o' Mine'?
I had read this story before and still found myself wrapped up in it with the reread. It just makes me sad. There are very original people in this world that are being held back by the 'normal' people. If you push the envelope, you are considered strange and often ridiculed or not understood. That is what the character in this story is dealing with. She writes amazing music, but it is not with the 'norm', so people are constantly trying to change her in order to fit in. Instead of giving in, though, she just gives up and ends it all. It's sad that these things happen. It takes all the really interesting people out of society and I like being different, so I would be bored if everyone was the same.

3. If you had the chance, would you take the opportunity offered to the characters in 'That Was Radio Clash'?
This was another reread. It is an interesting idea. The characters are given the chance to go back to before their life all went wrong and change things to make a different outcome. There are times where I consider it... I know that everything that you go through makes you the person that you are, but that doesn't mean it isn't tempting to know what is going to happen sometimes and avoid it. I am not sure if I would actually do it, but there are moments.

Previous Weeks:


  1. Whew, I finally got my answers up! I got sucked in to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and was being a bad blogger!!!

    As always I enjoy reading your answers and seeing what stood out for you in this shared reading experience.

    Great story about the guy on Oprah. That is amazing. I worked with a guy at my first job who was going through college and teaching himself to read at the same time. He had been passed all the way through the elementary and high school system without being able to read. He was a great guy and it was so inspiring to see him struggle through daily charting, etc. so that he could conquer reading. He eventually did so and it was a tear-inducing happy experience for all of us who worked with him.

    I think Pixel Pixies has been one of my favorites in the collection, in large part because of the bookstore setting and the emphasis on the magic of books.

    Can't believe we are almost done!

  2. I'm glad you both are enjoying these short stories. I don't read short stories all that often, but when I do I go straight to Charles de Lint!

  3. Darla: He is a good one to go to. Pretty much guaranteed to satisfy.

  4. SOME DAY, I will read Charles de Lint, and it will be all because of you! SOME DAY :-)


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