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From: "James Wynn" 
Subject: (urth) Re: Wolfe's little stories
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 19:46:18 -0500

> alga wrote:
> >And I don't think Wolfe is a very good short story >writer, by and large.
> Some of his fables are marvelous in >-Just-So- kind of way, and a few of
> longer stories, >novellas really, are very good. But if you're pinching
> >pennies, skipping a Wolfe collection is not unwise.

Crush sort-of disagrees:
Well, for the stuff I've read online, yeah, true. And I haven't read
"Strange Travellers" yet although it is on my shelf. But "Endangered
Spieces" (speaking as someone who isn't usually impressed by any "single
author" short story collection and doesn't typically like the short story
format) was the second book I read of Wolfe's (if one takes tBotNS as one
book), and I found it quite enjoyable. I've often wondered if Wolfe deserves
a cut of the profits of the movie 'The Last Action Hero" since it seems so
blatantly inspired by "The Last Thrilling Wonder Story" (no comments desired
about the merits of the movie -- I LIKED it). This story, aside from being
fun, it is an interesting analysis of how a character can hijack a story,
how a plot can develop beyond the genre intended by the author, and how
story plotting is often governed by unwritten rules. A very "inside" writing

In that vein, a friend of mine was positive that "A Toy Story" was inspired
by "The War Beneath the Tree".

Let us not forget the "The Cat" and "The Map" which are two elaborations on
"The Book of the New Sun". Honestly, I can't remember the plot of "The Cat"
right now but I thoroughly enjoyed "The Map" and still think about it lo
these many years later from time to time, speculating on what happened in
key plot points. Tim already mentioned "The Detective of Dreams" which is in
this collection. But what about "The House of Gingerbread"? Good, good

"The Island of Dr. Death and Other Stories and Other Stories" also has some
real surprises (the title story is IMO not one of them): "IBEM," "Tracking
Song," "The Death of Dr. Island", "Werewolfe as Hero" (I'm operating
entirely from memory here).

There are some duds in both collections but frankly one has to expect that.
One will often put up with a chapter in a novel that falls flat, goes
nowhere, or is just not one's cup of tea -- and still give the work a hearty
thumbs up (I never really enjoyed the play in tBotNS). When reading short
story collections (especially those all by one author where some less than
premium examples inevitably make their way in) I tend to take the same
attitude -- expecting only that the collection on a whole be enjoyable. In
these two cases, I'd say they cut muster.

-- Crush


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