CategoryHoward Kat

Stories: Conclusion

Having reached the end of Stories (click here for the index of my posts), it’s time for a few remarks in closing. I’d characterise this as a solid anthology — a broad range of material, and nothing particularly bad (Gene Wolfe’s is probably the weakest story, and even that has a certain amount of interest). However, more stories fall into the ‘quite good’ bracket ( as opposed to the ‘good’ bracket) than I’d have liked, and this is what makes the anthology solid rather than spectacular for me.

What, then, are the best stories in Stories? Roddy Doyle and Jodi Picoult do interesting things with fantasy, and demonstrate how fruitful the results can be when ‘mainstream’ writers try their hand at the fantastic. Michael Swanwick, Jeffrey Ford, and Joe Hill contribute perhaps the best-told tales; and Kat Howard’s piece is a strong debut.

Finally, how far does the anthology meet its stated aim: to collect stories that encourage readers to ask ‘and then what happened’? Quite well, I think — for all the criticisms I might make of some 0f these stories, they’re rarely dull. I’m wary of saying that any anthology has ‘something for everyone’ — but I think Stories comes close.

Kat Howard, ‘A Life in Fictions’ (2010)

This is Kat Howard’s first published story, and very fine it is, too. The five-page tale of a woman who finds herself being literally written into her boyfriend’s fiction (and being pushed out of her own life in the process). It succeeds because of the elegant way it conveys the underlying horror of the situation. On the basis of this piece, Howard is a writer to keep an eye on in future.

Rating: ****

Elsewhere
Kat Howard’s blog

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