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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fantasy Book Critic’s 2008 Review/2009 Preview — Jedediah Berry


I loved
Jeffrey Ford’s new collection, The Drowned Life. Ford’s short stories are strange and funny and heartbreaking, and sometimes they change the rules of what stories can do. Some of my favorites from the collection are “The Night Whiskey,” “The Dreaming Wind,” and “The Manticore Spell,” but don’t miss the confessions of a hot dog addict in “The Fat One.”

Kelly Link’s new collection, “Pretty Monsters”, is also wonderful, and it has great illustrations from Shaun Tan, author of “The Arrival”. I’ve been a fan of Link’s stories for a long time, and continue to be surprised and delighted by her work.

The Engine’s Child” by
Holly Phillips was a novel that really grabbed me with its taut political story, complicated characters, and brilliantly imagined setting. I read this one during a flight through a bad storm, and at one point the plane shook so violently that everyone screamed and some passengers started praying. My thought was: Now I’ll never find out how this book ends.

I highly recommend
Brian Francis Slattery’s new novel, “Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six after the Collapse of the United States of America”. The outlaws of the title are kind of Ocean’s Eleven for the End Times. Slattery has envisioned a world in which history loops and folds upon itself, catching the powerful and the downtrodden in its violent and transformative storm. Heady, smart, entertaining stuff.

Finally, I must tout the virtues of Benjamin Parzybok’s debut, “Couch” (disclosure: I work part-time for
Small Beer Press, which published the novel). Three guys have to move a couch out of their Portland, OR apartment, but the couch turns out to be magical, maybe, and they end up carrying it all the way to . . . well, much farther than anyone should have to carry a couch. This book is hilarious and odd in all the right ways.

Other novels I loved: “The Good Thief” by
Hannah Tinti, “The Monsters of Templeton” by Lauren Groff, “Wit's End” by Karen Joy Fowler, and “The Gone-Away World” by Nick Harkaway.


Drood” by
Dan Simmons. Release Date: February 9, 2009. Published by Little, Brown and Company.
Troll’s Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales” edited by
Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling. Release Date: April 16, 2009. Published by Viking Juvenile.
Four Freedoms” by
John Crowley. Release Date: May 26, 2009. Published by William & Morrow.
The film version of
The Road.
Delicate Edible Birds: And Other Stories” by
Lauren Groff. Release Date: January 27, 2009. Published by Voice.


My novel “The Manual of Detection” will be published by
Penguin in February. It’s about a file clerk who must solve a mystery involving dream detectives, a carnival magician, and a city-wide alarm clock heist. It will also be available in the UK from Heinemann (March 5, 2009) and as an audiobook from HighBridge.


Jedediah Berry’s short stories have appeared in in numerous journals and anthologies, including Best New American Voices and Best American Fantasy. He works as an assistant editor of
Small Beer Press. “The Manual of Detection” is his first novel. For more information, please visit the author’s Official Website.

NOTE: For more author responses, please visit Fantasy Book Critic's 2008 Review/2009 Preview index



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