But the collection itself is a thrill, given its slate of contributors and overall quality. But in spite of the mummies, zombies, science-fiction gadgets, and hard-bitten detectives scattered throughout, Tales is still a fairly subdued and intellectualized collection. Virtually all of its 20 entries have more bite and color than the "contemporary, quotidian, plotless, moment-of-truth revelatory story" Chabon scorns in his introduction, but virtually none would sit comfortably in the pulp magazines Thrilling Tales apes in its style, from the cover art an authentic magazine cover to the interior illustrations to the artfully fervid teaser blurbs summarizing each story.
Possibly the strongest case in point is Stephen King's contribution, an absorbing but bloodless and resolution-free excerpt from one of his upcoming Dark Tower novels. Chabon, too, contributes what feels like a small chunk of a tale that will eventually become thrilling, while Neil Gaiman, Dave Eggers, Harlan Ellison, Carol Emshwiller, Elmore Leonard, and Michael Crichton all turn in satisfying stories that dabble in genre trappings, but still operate abstractly, more in the head than the heart or the spine.
A few of Chabon's Thrilling Tales at least come by their genre claims unreservedly. Jessica Erica Hahn. Downed Town New Town. The Moon Poem and other strange jingle jangles. Gary Henry. The Insistence of Beauty: Poems. Stephen Dunn. Steve Katz. The Shorts. Stewert James.
Frank Schlender. Prospero's Son. Seth Lerer. Model of a City in Civil War. Adam Day.
Martin Ott. Totem Pole. Debbie Lacy. Red Trousseau. Carol Muske. Saphirina Wolfson. All Of Us. Elisabeth Frost.
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The Cynic in Extremis. Jacob M. Sixfold Poetry Fall Miranda Pearson. Ploughshares Winter Bill Knott. Things That I Carry. William Naylor. Michael Chabon. The Yiddish Policemen's Union. Telegraph Avenue. Wonder Boys. The Final Solution. Gentlemen of the Road. Kingdom of Olives and Ash. A Model World. Maps and Legends. Werewolves in Their Youth.
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Instead of the crisp plotting of the old yarn, we get a clumsy conclusion, and a lot of confusing symbolism.
McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales ed. by Michael Chabon
Maybe the classic thriller isn't as easy to write or as much fun to read as it used to be; it's hard work trudging through all this history, sci-fi and blood. Not classic pulp fiction, then, but a book for boys of all ages. Elaine Showalter's books include Inventing Herself Picador. Topics Books. Fiction Michael Chabon reviews. Reuse this content. Most popular.
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