Saturday, March 13, 2010

Room after room

My latest Astral Weeks column looks at a new anthology called Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy Volume 3, edited by Kevin Brockmeier, with stories by Stephen King, Ryan Boudinot, and others. A taste:

Several pieces have fun with form. Lisa Goldstein's "Reader's Guide" takes that most condescending literary apparatus, the book-club guide, and turns it inside out until it becomes a thing of Borgesian wonder. "How does Mary Bainbridge, the author of 'Winter Swan,' let us know that Donny is unhappy?" runs the first question, followed by the stumper: "Is it significant that the novel takes place in winter?" Soon enough, a narrator materializes behind these questions, just as one does in Padgett Powell's recent novel "The Interrogative Mood," and the insipidity of the format gives way to a vision of a vast Library of Story: "I think that the shelves are infinite, or at least I've never reached the end of them, row upon row of bookcases, room after room opening out one after the other."
(Winter Swan has been checked in at the Invisible Library.)

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