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The Very Best of Charles de Lint

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Very Best of Charles de Lint (2010) Charles de Lint

In Which We Meet Jilly Coppercorn
Coyote Stories
Laughter in the Leaves
The Badger in the Bag
And the Rafters Were Ringing
Merlin Dreams in the Mondream Wood
The Stone Drum
Timeskip
Freewheeling
A Wish Named Arnold
Into the Green
The Graceless Child
Winter Was Hard
The Conjure Man
We Are Dead Together
Mr. Truepenny’s Book Emporium and Gallery
In the House of My Enemy
The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep
Crow Girls
Birds
Held Safe by Moonlight and Vines
In the Pines
Pixel Pixies
Many Worlds Are Born Tonight
Sisters
Pal O’ Mine
That Was Radio Clash
Old Man Crow
The Fields Beyond the Fields

I love Charles de Lint.

My editor here at Tachyon was set on using the title The Very Best of Charles de Lint and I had no idea how to choose what would be included. Selecting my favourite stories would have been hard (because they’re all like my kids and how do you choose which of your kids is your favourite?), but with a lot of back-and-forthing, it would probably be doable. But my best stories?

I really didn’t know where to begin. I have my own ideas as to which are the best, but my judgement is coloured by circumstances and events that have less to do with the actual stories themselves and more to do with what was going on in my life while I was writing them, or what I was trying to accomplish. The actual best stories? How could I ever be objective enough to put such a collection together?

So he asked his readers to give him their favorite stories, and the ones they thought the best, and go from there.

“In Which We Meet Jilly Coppercorn” – The heart of the Newford stories is, of course, Jilly Coppercorn. The first story introduces those who are unfamiliar with Newford to Jilly, but also to what they are going to be reading.

“The world as we have it,” he went on to Jilly, “is here mostly because of habit.”

“Coyote Stories” is full of Native American mythos, and living between but never entirely in two different cultures.

We have the stories and they’ll give us the one thing nobody else can, the thing we can only take for ourselves, because there’s nobody can give you back your pride. You’ve got to take it back yourself.

It’s also, like so many other stories, sad and uplifting at the same time, which is another major theme running through his work.

“Laughter in the Leaves” is the first Meran and Cerin story in the anthology, “The Badger in the Bag” is the second Meran and Cerin story, and “And the Rafters Were Ringing” is the third in a row, and the last of thier stories set outside Newford.

“Merlin Dreams in the Mondream Wood” is a stand-alone story in that it’s not a Newford story or related to any other recurring characters.

“The Stone Drum” returns us to Jilly and Goon.

“…(Y)ou’re talking in riddles just like a wizard out of some fairy tale. I never understood why they couldn’t talk plainly.”
“That’s because some things can only be approached from the side. Secretively. Peripherally.”

“Timeskip” is one of the stories I find particularly said, although there are others that are far sadder in result. Like “Freewheeling”, which is just plain sad.

“A Wish Named Arnold”

Marguerite kept a wish in a brass egg and its name was Arnold.

“Into the Green” is another story set outside of our world, perhaps in Faerie, perhaps in a past that never quite was, just like “The Graceless Child”. It is possible it is also the first Charles de Lint story I read, since it appeared originally in Sword and Sorceress V.

“Winter Was Hard” returns us to Jilly and Newford, and Jilly’s ability to see and share magic everywhere.

“The Conjure Man” is another Newford story in which Jilly is only a secondary character, but it’s one of my favorites. Possibly in the top five.

“We Are Dead Together” is set outside of our world and is a vampire story of a sort.

“Mr. Truepenny’s Book Emporium and Gallery” is one of my favorites. It’s about Sophie and her dream world.

“In the House of My Enemy” is possible the most depressing story in the lot, but it’s also an amazing story, and one I always re-read, even knowing how sad it is.

“The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep” this is another Sophie Etoile story, and the story in which she meets Jeck.

“Crow Girls” is a story about the two crow girls who make appearances here and there in Newford and elsewhere.

Sometimes they forget they’re crows, left their feathers behind in the long ago, and sometimes they forget they’re girls. But they never forget that they’re friends.

“Birds” is another depressing story, yet it’s also redemptive, and lets you see you can move past your past.

“Held Safe by Moonlight and Vines” is a love story of sorts–or at least of a Charles de Lint sort.

“In the Pines” is another of my favorites, of a woman who lives her dream, regardless of whether it brings her success of fame.

I don’t lead an exciting life, but I’m partial to a lack of excitement. Gets to a point where excitement’s more trouble than it’s worth.

“Pixel Pixies” is tangentially about the Wordwood, but it’s mostly about hobs and the internet and Meran.

“Many Worlds Are Born Tonight” is probably my lest favorite story in the collection. It’s not bad, I just don’t care for it.

“Sisters” is another of my favorites–it’s a vampire story, except of course that Charles de Lint does vampires quite differently.

“Behind the wheel. You can drive, right?” To some remote location, Apples supposed. Where he’d have his nasty way with her. Or kill her. Probably, he planned to do both, hopefully in that order. Though technically, any physical relationship with her had to be classified as necrophilia. Ehew.

“Pal O’ Mine” is another story that makes me cry. I re-read it, but it still makes me cry.

Gina always believed there was magic in the world. “But it doesn’t work the way it does in fairy tales,” she told me. “It doesn’t save us. We have to save ourselves.”

“That Was Radio Clash” is another favorite story–one of second chances.

“Old Man Crow” is another story, perhaps similar to Coyote Stories, but perhaps not.

“You need to remember,” he told her, “that you don’t have another life in the bank. You got to make the most of the one you’re living right now.”

“The Fields Beyond the Fields” is the closing story, and although it’s not a bad story, it’s not ma favorite story. But even then there are still pearls of wisdom.

…worrying about “what if” only makes you miss out on “what is”…

That’s something to remember.
Rating: 9.5/10

Published by Triskell Press

Categories: 9/10, Anthology, Fantasy, Urban     Comments (0)    



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