Friday, January 2, 2015

The Best of Connie Willis: Award Winning Stories (2014)

I always have trouble describing exactly why I love the writing of Connie Willis so much.  Especially, particularly to friends when I'm recommending her books.  Quirky, idiosyncratic plots woven perfectly together; snappy, crisp dialogue; lots of subtle humor; lists of stuff.  A love of Agatha Christie and Christmas.  Sudden appearances of church music - modern church music, choirs.  Then, at the back of this book of all of her best short stories, the following from a speech she gave in 2006 (http://sfrevu.com/Review-id.php?id=4426):

"And I owe all the books I've written to books.

They taught me how to write.

Agatha taught me plotting
Mary Stewart suspense
Heinlein dialogue
P.G. Wodehouse comedy
Shakespeare irony
and Philip K. Dick how to pull the rug out from under the reader."

That's it, in her own words.  That's the recipe for a Connie Willis.  

This was unlike most books of short stories, in which one or two are wonderful, a few are mediocre or sort of interesting, and several "skippable" stories.  You'll devour every one of these.  It's like a cookie completely made up of chocolate chips.


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If this book of short stories is a chocolate chip cookie, then it's a cookie that's completely made up of chocolate chips.  Unlike most books of short stories, in which you have a few wonderful stories, and a hodgepodge of mediocre stories, and a couple of stinkers - each and every one of these are brilliant.  They are all award-winners of some sort (but that doesn't mean anything when it comes to liking or not liking a piece of literature); what really makes them delectable is that they all are trademark Connie Willis. The last bit of the book includes some speeches Willis has made, and in 2006 she said this about her own writing:  "And I owe all the books I've written to books.

They taught me how to write.

Agatha taught me plotting
Mary Stewart suspense
Heinlein dialogue
P.G. Wodehouse comedy
Shakespeare irony
and Philip K. Dick how to pull the rug out from under the reader." (you can find the whole speech here: http://sfrevu.com/Review-id.php?id=4426).

Add a touch of screwball comedy, and that's the recipe for a Willis right there.




No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive

Followers