Friday, October 26, 2012

Circus: Fantasy Under the Big Top --- edited by Ekaterina Sedia

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):   Introducing stories of circuses traditional and bizarre, futuristic and steeped in tradition, joyful and heart-breaking! And among the actors you will find old friends, be they sad clowns or free-spirited gymnasts, as well as new ones - mammoths, mechanical piano men, and things best not described at all. Come in, come all, and enjoy the literary show unfolding!

And here's what I thought:   This book of short stories has contributions from a wealth of authors, including Peter Straub, Jeff VanderMeer, Douglas Smith, Cate Gardner and others.   So, there's a lot to choose from, which I like; just in case I don't enjoy one story, I can always try another.

Like many collections, I found I enjoyed some of the stories here more than others.  I originally picked up this book because I have always had a fascination with circuses and carnivals.  I've always been curious about the kinds of people who tie their lives to a circus, and also find the history of circuses and carnivals to be interesting.   I also ordered this book for my library's collection and snapped it up when it hit the shelf ...... I'll be returning it tomorrow to give other people the opportunity to check it out.   The stories range from the fantastical to the horror-tinged.  My personal favorites among the stories were Amanda Downum's Smoke and Mirrors, Vanishing Act by E. Catherine Tobler, Circus, Circus by Eric M. Witchey and 26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss by Kij Johnson (which involves a woman who buys an act with 26 monkeys who vanish, from a suspended bathtub, onstage).    It was also nice to re-read a story by Douglas Smith called Scream Angel -- I had read and reviewed Smith's book of stories, Chimerascope a while back, and had enjoyed it.

One of the best things about short stories is that they can introduce you to an author you've never heard of, without being committed to an entire book.   As I said, I didn't love every single story here, but I found the overall collection to be good.

One of my favorite first lines:   When the circus was very small, it believed it would grow up to have many multi-colored big tops with banners on the support poles and three rings in each tent.  It lived in Mexico then, and its smaller tents were brand new -- the Bottle Throw, the Wheel of Fortune, and especially the Palmist and Mystic -- because she loved the circus most; and love was, after all, the food that made the circus grow.

from Circus, Circus by Eric M. Witchey


Dazzling Mage said...

I've always liked the circus, and adding fantasy in it- SO INTERESTED!

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