6. “The Spook”
This was a really interesting story, though I wasn’t blown away by it. A man is haunted by not-to-scary ghost and, of course, a duel ensues. I loved the idea of a poetry duel ‘to the death’ and the pesky nature of the ghost. One guy is totally irritated by it while the other man just takes it in stride just makes this delightful. I think the moral of the story is that friendship can transcend the spiritual boundaries of life and death.
7. “The Stickball Witch”
This was another story that I really loved because of Beagle’s use of nostalgia. This reminded me of The Sandlot, which is one of my favorite films, as everyone knows that one person from their childhood who was just horrifying–until you actually met them. While this was a straightforward story, it’s just filled with whimsy and humor with just a smidge of magic placed like a dollop on top of what could be a regular old baseball story.
It also reminds me of Bill Cosby’s “Street Football” standup routine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmZ0tVOTr…
8. “By Moonlight”
This was a more sensual story–but also a very sensuous one. It’s vivid, with an engrossing play on the mythology of Oberon and Titania, as well as the general faery myths.
Coincidentally, this ties in nicely with a bit of The Wise Man’s Fear, which I just finished, so this appealed to me a bit more than normal with its use of fairy stories and mythology retold and toyed with. It’s also something that I could see Holly Black liking, though she’d probably be a bit darker with it. I like the idea of time passing differently in the Fae, as well as Oberon’s way of interacting with his wife’s liaisons.
9. “The Unicorn Tapestries”
These vignettes, narrative versions of art from Beagle’s childhood, were good and interesting. However, I think that, without Beagle’s personal connection, I wouldn’t have cared much about these. That is, I didn’t really care until the last two tapestries, which were both tragic and jubilant.
While I didn’t unabashedly love this story, I appreciated it for two main reasons:
1) It’s the story of a strong woman–an assassin!–who must come to terms with who she is and go against her nature. It’s a story of a woman who could take vengeance upon a terrifying creature but doesn’t because it’s not exactly what she thinks it is.
2) This story so intrigued me–as well as Beagle’s introduction to it–that I want to read The Inkeeper’s Song, as this story is set in the world he created for that novel.
This was a great collection of stories! I’m happy to have been exposed to them, and I look forward to the next time I might chance to come across the prolific master of short form prose, Peter S. Beagle.