It’s Not Novel, But I Like Anthologies

Admittedly, I’m a rather recent convert to reading anthologies. I’ve never seen them on bestseller lists or on anyone’s must-read list. In bookstores, if you’re lucky enough to know where they still exist, most fiction shelf space is devoted to novels, too. In my many decades of reading, I’d only bothered to read a handful of single author collections of short stories and novellas [Salinger’s Nine Stories, King’s Four Past Midnight and Barthelme’s 60 Stories come to mind.] BUT, no multi-author anthologies.

Why the hate? I seemed to be under the misguided impression that anything shorter than a novel was less than a novel.

Then, my brother brought a box of them home. I was jonesing on The Walking Dead [the show] and had already read the compendiums and there was a Paula Guran edited anthology on the shelf staring at me, Extreme Zombies, which included a George R. R. Martin short story. And another anthology on apocalypses, After the End: Recent Apocalypses–who doesn’t love the end of times? at least in print and movies. Recently, I read Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep, and I keep picking at New Cthulhu 2.

I read them, and really liked them. Why? 1) They were introducing dozens of new authors to me. 2) By being themed anthologies, they were exploring a subject by showcasing the diversity within.

Since then I’ve read more, but I’ve learned that not all anthologies are equal. Not all are themed, clearly. Or even genre-based, oddly. Writers of the Future Volume 31 is mostly contest winners earning their inclusion. The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2015 is one publishing house’s Best Of list. Again, as a reader, a great way to find new voices. I’m about to start The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2015.

Chronology was more like reading a lit magazine in that it was not theme-based, nor genre-based, nor a best-of. There were some great stories, but ultimately I think I was disappointed that time was not a theme of an anthology named chronology.

What is your take on anthologies or short stories in general? Do you read them?

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2 responses to “It’s Not Novel, But I Like Anthologies

  1. I’ve bought a ton of anthologies, but mostly because a fav author put a series short or novella in one. I end up reading that one story, but rarely do I read all of them. I always want to, but there are always too many novels on my TBR pile. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do know what you mean. I almost got Rogues for the Rothfuss novella about Bast, but now I will be reading it in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas: 2015 compiled by Prime Books. I’ll start that when I finish their Best of Dark Fantasy and Horror. It does slow down my novel-reading unfortunately. Still trying to finish up the Crown and Key by Griffith & Griffith.

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