Readers’ Advisory 2: Fantastic Women. Rob Spillman, ed.

Quick Facts

Editor: Rob Spillman

Published 2011 Tin House $18.95US

262pp. 9781935639107

Short stories, surreal, fantasy

Why I Read It

I bought this book sight unseen. I read no reviews. I knew nothing about the authors. It was the jacket copy. In it, Kafka, Mary Shelley, the Brothers Grimm, and Angela Carter are all mentioned. I read and enjoyed The Metamorphosis. The Brothers Grimm versions of popular fairy tales have always been my favorites. I’ve been interested in Angela Carter since hearing an undergrad presentation on her and the roles of women and monsters. Who hasn’t read Frankenstein? So, I got it.

TLL’s Tag

Prepare to be wierded out in the best possible way.

The Rundown

This is an anthology of 18 fantasy stories. Each set in a world not unlike our own, the stories showcase the lasting allure of using the fantastic to gain insight into the real.

Here’s what I think

When I first read Fantastic Women, it took me quite a while. I knew going in that I would be stretching myself as a reader. Many things went right over my head. Even now, after multiple readings, I still don’t understand everything that happens. But that’s the beauty of storytelling. I don’t have to understand everything. That opens me, and other readers, up to multiple understandings. Every time I read this collection, I get something new out of it. So what if I still don’t understand what a dickmare is or I can’t wrap my head around a drive-through house. I do know that it is impolite and unwise to criticize others, because they may end up your family. I do know that a selkie can never be truly happy on land, even if she does have children. 

One more thing I know after having read this book. I have yet to find a surrealist short story that tops Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” but these ladies certainly come close.

Final decision

5Q–Hard to imagine it better written

3P–Read it because the book club was reading it

Readalikes, courtesy of NoveList Plus

Titles

Women of Darkness II

The Penguin book of Modern Fantasy by Women

“The Yellow Wallpaper” Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Appeal Factors

Slightly disturbing, short stories, nonlinear

Book talk ideas

Drive through house p.225

Klepto seagulls p.197

Selkie cubs p.171

People soup p.163

Book discussion questions

1) What was your favorite story in the collection? Why?

2) How did you imagine the Dickmare?

3) Who/what were the Wilds?

Clues to the Future

Fantasy, surrealism, sublime, short stories, Fantastic Women, disturbing, creative, the Wilds, people soup, the dickmare, klepto seagulls

Awards and Lists

NA

Links to the Author, Interviews, and Reviews

Publishers Weekly Review: http://www.publishersweekly.com/9781935639107

Mostly Fiction Review: http://bookreview.mostlyfiction.com/2011/fantastic-women-edited-by-rob-spillman/

Tor Review: http://www.tor.com/2011/09/13/genre-in-the-mainstream-fantastic-women/

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