CategoryPicoult Jodi

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.

Jodi Picoult, ‘Weights and Measures’ (2010)

Along with Roddy Doyle, Picoult is an author I wouldn’t instinctively associate with the fantastic (though I’ve not read her previously); I find it interesting that those two authors’ stories are my favourites in the anthology so far. ‘Weights and Measures’ is the story of Sarah and Abe, a couple who lose their baby daughter, and then find their bodies subtly (then not so subtly) changing.

I found Picoult’s story to be a delicately observed portrait of loss and grief, with an added metaphorical undercurrent, as the contrasting physical changes in Abe and Sarah represent the drifting apart of their relationship. Neatly done.

Rating: ****

Elsewhere
Jodi Picoult’s website

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