mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli
mordicai

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& other stories. (86)

The Island of Doctor Death & Other Stories & Other Stories by Gene Wolfe.

Sugarland is Oz.
The Captain is Captain Hook.
& Edward Teach, too.

I'm not one for short stories. They just aren't my cup of tea; I don't need to speak ill of them. I just prefer novels, whether it is because I like a discrete entity (cover to cover, one thing) or the way my attention span is cut, or something else. It might be fairly strange to say, me not liking short stories, given my propensity for Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, & Jorge Luis Borges. & well, given Gene Wolfe's fondness for J.L. Borges, it shouldn't surprise anyone that he's got oodles of short story collections. I own all the ones in print, but have only read piecemeal from them ("Empire of Foliage & Flower"), figuring hey, at least this way I'll have Gene Wolfe to parcel out for a little while, along with his (what now seem to be) nearly annual novels. I can live with that! Well, I decided to break the seal on one of them, & get into it.

The Island of Doctor Death & Other Stories & Other Stories is a collection of shorts from the 1970s, & you can see that they wear their decade. Not derogatorily; just an aroma in the air around them. "The Island of Doctor Death & Other Stories" starts it off, which is echoed back in "The Death of Doctor Island" & "The Doctor of Death Island." Of the three, "The Death of Doctor Island" is my favorite; plus, the protagonist has had his corpus callosum cut? Great. In my current Oubliette campaign one of the characters, (played by toughlad) has had his snipped; sure, Gene Wolfe, why don't you just go ahead & steal that six years before I'm born. Go ahead, thanks. A lot of these stories turn pretty quickly into meta-commentary; dipping a nod, wink, or sneer at Frank L. Baum, Walt Disney, Charles Dickens, Scheherazade...in no particular order. I think out of the whole bunch that "Tracking Song" is the best of them, though the decaying Washington DC of "Seven American Nights" summons up the most evocative images when it hits its high notes. Oh, & "Hero as Werewolf" lets not forget-- pretty great, pretty darn great. Yep, Gene Wolfe-- he's the greatest living writer; echo that sentiment, stars.
Tags: books, gene wolfe, haiku
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