In his introduction to this short story collection by well-known novelists and short story writers, editor Neil Gaiman explains that the collection came about when he solicited fellow authors for stories that would make readers ask, “And then what happened?” He says that to him this is the hallmark of a good story, which I took to mean that a good story needs to have a strong plot, not just good writing or good characters, but it seemed to me as though some authors misunderstood and just left off the endings of their stories.
They did leave me wondering “…and then what happened,” but with annoyance rather than pleasure, as if I had been reading a Choose Your Own Adventure™ book with all of the possible plot permutations torn out of the back. After checking a few times to make sure I hadn’t messed up the track order on my iPod or missed transferring some of the stories’ endings onto it, I realized that some of the stories really did just end without a resolution. Ambiguous endings, fine, but these were beyond ambiguous. They were simply non-endings.
There were other really great stories that left me thinking about the characters and what may have happened next to them without making me feel as though the ending had been left off. Many excellent short story writers contributed to this collection, including Joyce Carol Oates and Neil Gaiman himself, but a best-selling novelist does not necessarily a good short story writer make.
Since I picked this audiobook out mainly because a couple of my favorite audiobook narrators read stories on it, I still enjoyed listening to Stories, though. Even the stories that weren’t as great as the others were still read very engagingly by star-quality audiobook narrators Katherine Kellgren and Jonathan Davis, along with two actor/narrators who were new to me on audio, but also excellent – Peter Francis James and Euan Morton.
All 27 stories have a fantastical element to them, and there’s a good representation of fantasy, s/f, and horror writers as well as authors like Carolyn Parkhurst, Jodi Picoult, and Chuck Palahniuk, and Stewart O’Nan, who aren’t known for writing in those genres.
Sample the audio edition of Stories: All-New Tales edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio here.
Read the AudioFile review here.
Stories: All-New Tales
Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio, eds.
18.25 hours on
Disclosure: I borrowed this audiobook through my public library. Yay for libraries!