Tag Archives: anthology

How They Met, by David Levithan

How They MetIn Levithan’s junior year of high school, he got bored in physics class and wrote a Valentine’s story for his friends using the words in his physics textbook. He wrote another Valentine’s story the next year, and kept writing them, and many of these are included in this book of stories about love.

It’s a book of stories that manages to be both very, very David Levithan – tender, funny, sparkling prose, wise about love and teenage stupidity-about-love – and not at all monotonous. There’s good love, bad love, love everywhere in between, straight love, gay love, teenagers, old people.

 My favorites: “Miss Lucy Had a Steamboat” is full of ouch and wincing. “The Alumni Interview” and ‘The Good Witch” are honest about the angst of being gay in high school but they’re also really, really funny. In the former, Ian is having an alumni interview with his boyfriend’s father, who doesn’t know that his son is gay.

“What is the GSA?”
I tried to imagine him coming to one of our Gay-Straight Alliance meetings. I tried to imagine that he would understand if I told him what it was.

“GSA stands for God Smiles Always, sir,” I said with my most sincere expression.
“I didn’t know the high school had one of those.”
“It’s pretty new, sir.”
“How did it start?”
“Because of the school musical,” I earnestly explained. “A lot of the kids in the musical wanted to start it.”
“Really?”
“It was Jesus Christ Superstar, sir. I think we were all moved by how much of a superstar Jesus was. It made us want to work to make God smile.”

“The Number of People Who Meet on Airplanes” is just… awwwww. “Princes” is one of my favorites: a tangle of unrequited crushes at an elite dance studio, a dancer who wants to bring his non-existent boyfriend to his little brother’s bar mitzvah, the little brother who stands up for him.

“Without Saying” is perhaps the strangest story and perhaps my favorite. It is about love, and the writing of stories, and the intersections between those. What we have the power to invent.

Not all of the stories are great – I appreciate the inclusion of the stories Levithan wrote in high school, but I do find them rather slight – but it’s surprising how many of them are. And Levithan is the kind of writer who can still make me believe in love.

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The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, 2007 edited by Ellen Datlow and Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s  long-running antholoYear's Best Fantasy and Horror (2007)gy of the year’s best fantasy and horror has  been, for me, one of the most reliable sources for really good fantasy fiction.  For the last couple of years, Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant have taken over the fantasy side from Terri Windling, and I’m happy to say that they keep up the anthology’s high standards.

If you happen to like the editors’ taste in stories.

You can’t quite take this for granted. The stories in this collection lean heavily towards the literary/slipstream/weird edge of the genre, and I think fans of traditional epic fantasy might not find much to suit their tastes.  But there’s still a tremendous amount of variety in plot, setting, and style; you can read it almost straight through without getting a sense that the stories are all alike.

I enjoyed nearly all of the fantasy, and appreciated most of the horror. I don’t really read horror, but some of the stories are superb.

In “First Kisses from Beyond the Grave,” the hero ends up going to the same high school as his dead best friend, a high school for the dead; it takes some tired elements and turns them into something unexpectedly tender. “Fourteen Experiments in Postal Delivery” is silly, wacky, but with a human heart inside. “The Night Whiskey” is gorgeous, haunting, a juxtaposition of nostalgia and anxiety. “Another Word for Map is Faith” has an absolutely startling premise and runs with it; it’s about cartography, but don’t let that scare you off.  “A Siege of Cranes” and “The Lineaments of Gratified Desire” are two of the stories that fit more closely, perhaps, with the traditional boundaries of genre fantasy–but both stories are way at the far-out inventive edge, and Ysabeau Wilce’s writing in the latter makes me think I should’ve picked up Flora Segunda months ago. “Halfway House” and “Drowning Palmer” are two more standouts in a collection that, really, is almost all standouts.