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McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales

by

McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales Cover

 

 

Excerpt

from "Closing Time" by Neil Gaiman

There are still clubs in London. Old ones, and mock-old, with elderly sofas and crackling fireplaces, newspapers, and traditions of speech or of silence, and new clubs, the Groucho and its many knock-offs, where actors and journalists go to be seen, to drink, to enjoy their glowering solitude, or even to talk. I have friends in both kinds of club, but am not myself a member of any club in London, not any more.

Years ago, half a lifetime, when I was a young journalist, I joined a club. It existed solely to take advantage of the licensing laws of the day, which forced all pubs to stop serving drinks at eleven pm, closing time. This club, the Diogenes, was a one-room affair located above a record shop in a narrow alley just off the Tottenham Court Road. It was owned by a cheerful, chubby, alcohol-fueled woman called Nora, who would tell anyone who asked and even if they didn't that she'd called the club the Diogenes, darling, because she was still looking for an honest man. Up a narrow flight of steps, and, at Nora's whim, the door to the club would be open, or not. It kept irregular hours.

It was a place to go once the pubs closed, that was all it ever was, and despite Nora's doomed attempts to serve food or even to send out a cheery monthly newsletter to all her club's members reminding them that the club now served food, that was all it would ever be. I was saddened several years ago when I heard that Nora had died; and I was struck, to my surprise, with a real sense of desolation last month when, on a visit to England, walking down that alley, I tried to figure out where the Diogenes Club had been, and looked first in the wrong place, then saw the faded green cloth awnings shading the windows of a tapas restaurant above a mobile phone shop, and, painted on them, a stylised man in a barrel. It seemed almost indecent, and it set me remembering.

There were no fireplaces in the Diogenes Club, and no armchairs either, but still, stories were told there.

Most of the people drinking there were men, although women passed through from time to time, and Nora had recently acquired a glamourous permanent fixture in the shape of a deputy, a blonde Polish emigree who called everybody "darlink" and who helped herself to drinks whenever she got behind the bar. When she got drunk, she would tell us that she was by rights a countess, back in Poland, and swear us all to secrecy.

There were actors and writers, of course. Film editors, broadcasters, police inspectors, and drunks. People who did not keep fixed hours. People who stayed out too late, or who did not want to go home. Some nights there might be a dozen people there, or more. Other nights I'd wander in and I'd be the only person there ? on those occasions I'd buy myself a single drink, drink it down, and then leave.

That night, it was raining, and there were four of us in the club after midnight.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400033393
Author:
Chabon, Michael
Publisher:
Vintage Books USA
Author:
Edited by Michael Chabon
Author:
Edited by Michael Chabon
Location:
New York
Subject:
Short Stories (Anthologies)
Subject:
Short Stories (single author)
Subject:
Anthologies (multiple authors)
Subject:
Short stories, American
Subject:
Anthologies-General
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage Contemporaries Original
Series Volume:
107-377
Publication Date:
March 25, 2003
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
480
Dimensions:
8 x 5.1 x .95 in .75 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » American » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » General
Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Literature
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Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » Anthologies

McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales Used Trade Paper
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Product details 480 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9781400033393 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "Fortunately the stories involve more sensitive negotiations between past and present forms. Indeed, it is interesting to trace the continuities and discontinuities in what Fredric Jameson would call the political imaginary of these stories, as the imperial basis of many of the tales associated with pulp's golden age is brought into uneasy alignment with the globalized economy of today. In this Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales we encounter airships, mummies, intrepid explorers, mountaineers, and time-travellers: the traditional stuff of pulp, or, to cite Michael Moorcock's Holmesian detective in 'The Case of the Nazi Canary,' of 'the bloods . . . the tuppenny skinnies and fourpenny fats.' But here, too, are tourist buses, circulating capital, drugs and quantum physics: the stuff of much of today's literary fiction." (read the entire TLS review)
"Review" by , "[A] fiction anthology with an innovative, simple concept: the stories are driven by adventurous plots and narrative action, in contrast to the current trend toward stories that are 'plotless and sparkling with epiphanic dew,' as Chabon writes in his introduction....Half a dozen or so stories are markedly slight, but overall this is a strong collection."
"Review" by , "Unlike Henry James's ghost stories — where genre was always used to access the literary — the emphasis here is on fun: but what about those who ask for more than that? Still, talent galore, and well worth the price of admission."
"Review" by , "In spite of itself, the collection contains enough revelatory moments to make the overall experience worthwhile....Here, the sneaky power of short stories is best illustrated. Whether you are about to be devoured by a gargantuan marine jaw or are just stepping off a curb, epiphanies can strike anywhere." (Grade: B-)
"Review" by , "[O]ne of the best anthologies in recent years....The 20 entries are heavy on plot with occasional endings O. Henry would have been proud of....The H.J. Ward cover from the 1940 issue of Red Star Mystery Magazine is perfect for the anthology...and Howard Chaykin's lead illustrations for each story will take you back half a century to those times when stories had a plot and all was right with the world." (Grade: A)
"Review" by , "[A]n uneven, somewhat gentrified 'Treasury,' the self-consciousness of the exercise making it more fun in parts than as a whole....There are thrills, though. Rick Moody's mournful, postapocalyptic thriller...manages to feel personal while recycling Philip K. Dick. Chabon blends alternate history with Jules Verne to gripping effect."
"Review" by , "Like all anthologies, this one's a mixed bag, but it nicely defies expectations. A few of the literary writers can't break the chains of thought, thought, endless thought, and turn in wordy, heel-dragging efforts....The best combine an unself-conscious writing style and enough good plot twists to keep you reading."
"Review" by , "[M]ost of the pieces here are dreadful, especially the ones by genre stalwarts like Crichton and King. But a few of them are actually profound. These are the ones in which the writers didn't adhere too strictly to their chosen genre....These stories are experimental, in their own way...but their experimenting is a means to meaning, not an end. Who are these old-fashioned writers? None other than McSweeney's own Nick Hornby, Rick Moody, and Dave Eggers."
"Synopsis" by , From Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon and the editors of the award-winning iconoclastic magazine McSweeney's comes this collection of never-before-published stories from America's most popular and innovative writers reinventing the genres they love.
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