Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pratt's Hart & Boot: Excellent Volume of Appetizer-Sized Tales

T.A. Pratt's Hart & Boot & Other Stories is my favorite fiction find of 2009. (Genre: Fantasy and/or Urban Fantasy, though the title tale's Western setting makes it technically a story of the Weird West.)

A short story collection allows me to finish one tale, in a short period, and to get on with the rest of my busy life until I have another fiction break. Unlike longer works of this quality, that I'd fear to begin during a busy week because of the threat I will be unable to put it down and will miss deadlines (or that I will find myself distracted and thinking about where a long story is going instead of reading it to find out), Pratt's collection of shorts allows me to finish a whole piece and then move ahead with my day --potentially putting it down without that nagging need to snatch it up again and finish the whole book immediately. Each stands alone, delicious and refreshing. You can, of course, buy a Pratt short story in another collection, and enjoy it among samplings of others' work, but Pratt's wares are delictible, entirely worth consuming one after the other, and worth having in quantity.

Everything in Pratt's Hart & Boot collection is good ... but a few of the stories are just damn good. Several have been published elsewhere before – Cup and Table, for example, was first published in Twenty Epics, as a genuine epic in a short story. Sound impossible? Read and believe. Pratt mines myths for material in which to embed several of his stories, the result of which is a combination work that seems to fit in with a universe of existing narrative you've long known, and work that assumes nothing about what you've read and known. Delightful.

According to Amazon, used copies of this gem are dirt cheap -- so even in hard times, there's little excuse not to buy:

UPDATE: I've discovered through the author's blog (note: contains numerous segments of a series Bone Shop, in reverse order, so be careful where you start!) that his current series about the sorceress Marla Mason will not be continued by its previous publisher. To sample the wares without the irritation of cliffhanger chapter-endings, try reading Pratt's short story Pale Dog, which I regard as a great teaser for the series.

1 comment:

Elliott said...

Two or three years ago one of my colleagues, having learned of my love of science fiction/fantasy, gave me a copy of "The Collected Short Stories of Arthur C. Clarke." I was enthralled. I agree that the short story format combined with good fiction is a wonderful thing. I'll definitely give this a look.