Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Review: The Curiositites: a collection of stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff


A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck.

Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing.

A world where fires never go out (with references to ice cream.)

Are you curious?

The Curiosities began as a writing experiment between three friends, popular YA Lit writers Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Breena Yovanoff.  And it ended with an awesome epic amazing curiously awesome collection of short stories.

The Curiosities is a fun look not only into the paranormal world, but into the world of writing and at a glimpse into the life of 3 friends who happen to be writers.  These stories are unedited and contain a variety of hand written notes throughout; in fact at one point, one of the authors circles a bunch of "it is" in one story and says that if she was editing the story, she would use more contractions.  Some of the other notes include:

"Full disclosure: I still don't really know what this title means. But I liked how it sounded." (p. 212)

"I almost convinced myself I could give this story a less unhappy ending, but that wouldn't really be in keeping with the prompt." (p. 78)

"Contrary to popular belief, this IS an ending." (p. 10)

There are notes about the stories, notes about each other as a writer and fun things like a hand drawn diagram of Brenna's brain, Tessa's liver and Maggie's heart.

Karen's Pick for a Holiday Season Gift Book


There are other fun asides in this book, such as this list:

How to End a Story When You're Stuck:
Kill Someone
Kill Everyone
Burn Things Down (apparently Maggie Stiefvater has someone inside her always saying "fire, fire")
Make Them Kiss
Get the Paino Wire
Start Over
It Was All a Dream
End Mid-Sente . . .

Most of the short stories in this collection are good, unlike a lot of other short story collections.  But in many ways, that hardly seems like the point of this book.  No, this is a heartfelt look into the life of a writer and into a friendship - and it is truly quite glorious.  I really loved this book.  It is creative, interesting, and such an intimate look in the writing process, friendship, and the hearts (and brain and liver) of three very talented ya writers.

Here is my caveat: I don't know about you, but my teens don't really check out short story collections.  I don't know why, but they don't.  They never have.  And this book seems like a real fan's book.  I imagine that the audience for this book is limited, maybe to three types of people: 1) those that are interested in learning more about the art of writing, 2) fangirls (and guys) - those who are fans to any one of or all of these ya authors and 3) me people like me who love a good story.  I can also seeing this be a huge success in the classroom as it kind of lifts the veil to the writing and editing process and behind the curtain you see the editing wizard.

To be honest, this is a 5 star book and I highly recommend it, with the above mentioned caveat.  And I think this is a great holiday gift book to anyone who would put themselves in the above categories.

P.S. - there is a really interesting twist on the zombie story in here.
 
So tell me, do your teens read short story collections, or are they dust collectors at your library too?/

5 comments:

  1. Chandra11/26/2012

    They don't circ at my library either. But we file them in adult non-fiction, and most teens don't look in the 813s when they want a good read. I have more luck when I incorporate them into a display, sort of sneak them into the reader's selection.

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  2. They don't circ much at our library either, though they are more popular than historical fiction!

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  3. They don't circulate at my library either, but I'm thinking I might have to buy this for myself! It sounds great!

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  4. They are definitely dust collectors. Recently, I pulled them for more space
    and am debating where to put them Every once in a while there is a school project
    requiring them and I think it is the only time they go out. I file them with the fiction.


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  5. Short story collections and anthologies don't usually go out like crazy with my teen readers but occasionally they do end up being a big hit. Welcome to Bordertown is the one that comes to mind as it was a book passed around from person to person at Bistro Book Club and was booktalked by teen readers almost weekly for a couple of months.

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