McSweeney's Astonishing Stories

McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories

McSweeney's Astonishing StoriesGenre fiction is interesting in that it straddles the line between pulp and the stuff in the glossy matte (an oxymoron in itself) covers that demand premium prices and hefty advances. Even more interesting is taking regular fiction writers and making them write in a particular genre–in this case ghost/horror/gothic mystery. I’m not even sure how else to describe most of the short stories in here. There are some authors who generally write these kinds of fictions in the compilation as well, including Peter Straub and Joyce Carol Oats. The best comparison would be Creepshow, Tales from the Crypt, Tales from the Darkside. You know, Twilight Zone type stuff. Of course it’s put out by McSweeney’s, so there is some sort of snobbish literature sense to this otherwise base genre. It’s like Ted Leo covering that Kelly Clarkson song; there’s a real earnest effort put into it, but you still get the sense that way deep down there is some small feeling of superiority. I’m sure I’m just projecting my hatred of the bizarre shiny cover of this book with its lavender Druids and whatnot. Anyhow, the stories are fun, and occasionally spooky, and remind me of my early years of reading those Stephen King books like Skeleton Crew and Night Shift. I hope McSweeney’s continues to put these out, as it’s very seldom these days that I get to read something fun and different.