Short Story Monday (Once Upon A Time Edition)

out3shortstoryI’ve decided that I want to participate in short story weekends this year for the Once Upon a Time III Challenge hosted by Carl. And what better way to begin this fantastic challenge than with the short stories of Peter Beagle from his new collection, We Never Talk About My Brother. I had the privilege to read the introduction this weekend along with the first two stories. I would’ve liked to have read more, but knowing that there’s much more awaiting me makes me happy đŸ™‚

Charles De Lint writes this introduction to this collection and what he says about Peter Beagle perfectly sums up how I feel about him. First off, he talks about how Beagle does the perfect job at setting his fantasy stories in the real world. Take a book like A Fine and Private Place, set in a real cemetary with real people yet some of them just happen to mingle with the dead. Or Tamsin where a young girl leaves her school and travels to a farm where she befriends the ghost of the house. It almost makes it all seem possible, the way he writes. De Lint goes on to talk about how Beagle’s stories are timeless. And they are. The Last Unicorn will always be a classic, as it was the day it was published. And books like A Fine and Private Place feel like they could’ve been written yesterday despite the fact that it was written 40 years ago.

The stories in this collection are no different so far. Both of them have a strong religious theme to them, which is something I find popping up in Beagle’s work more often the more I pay attention to it. I’d love to sit down with him and talk religion some day and get his view points. It’s not something I talk much about on this blog, but it’s a subject that I’ve always found fascinating. The first story is “Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and The Angel.” The story is about an elderly painter who has garnered quite a following over the years. One day when he and his nephew step into his studio to paint, he finds an angel robed in blue waiting for him. The angel tells him that he is to paint nothing but her for the remainder of his career. Uncle Chaim is not baffled or surprised by the angel’s appearance…instead he is fairly apathetic and bothered by it in a way. But eventually, he forms an obsession with the angel. And the reader is soon to learn that the angel is not necessarily what it appears to be. It holds a secret that the reader would never guess. Great story. Solid start to the collection.

The second story is even better though. It’s the title story, “We Never Talk About My Brother.” Following in the religious theme, the story focuses around two brothers named Jacob and Esau. The story itself is narrated by Jacob as he reveals a frightening secret to an interviewer about his brother Esau. Esau has a special ability. He can make things happen, bring death to the world and the world thinks it has always been that way. He wishes a boy dead and suddenly the boy’s funeral was a week ago. Esau is now a famous news caster. Think about that. Think about what you see on the news everynight. Now imagine that it all happened just because the news caster said it did. Scary stuff, neh?

I’m blown away with some of the ideas that Beagle comes up with in his shorter work. It’s much the same as I look at Neil Gaiman’s short stories. I read them and think “where the hell did he think of this stuff??” All that really matters, though is that he did. Stay tuned next weekend for some more stories from Beagle’s collection.

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19 Responses

  1. A Fine and Private Place will actually be 50 in 2010…can you believe it? I can’t wait to get started reading this book.

    PS: I see you fixed the permalinks…yay!

  2. That’s Crazy!!! And guess what? Courtney from Moonsoar fixed everything for me!! She’s so sweet đŸ˜€

  3. Digging the new site. I updated my blog roll and reader because I don’t want to miss a thing. I can’t wait to get this book! I won it from Nymeth last week so soon it will show up in my mailbox and I can follow along with you!!

  4. Thanks Staci! Glad you’re enjoying it đŸ™‚

  5. […] TITLE. added an interesting post on Short Story Monday (Once Upon A Time Edition)Here’s a small excerptThe stories in this collection are no different so far. … I’d love to sit down with him and talk religion some day and get his view points. […]

  6. Ah man, now I’m even more bummed than ever. Actually, I’ve been meaning to e-mail you about this anyway…did you order your copy of this from Conlan Press? It’s now been more than three weeks since I ordered it, yet it still hasn’t arrived. đŸ˜¦ But the website did say they ship media mail, so maybe it’s just still on the way. I was hoping to have it for the start of OUaT…but then it’s not like I don’t have plenty of other stuff to read. đŸ˜‰

  7. Sounds like a great collection and a wonderful way to start Short Story Weekends! I started with Bradbury, you started with Beagle. Looks like we got the Masters of the B section covered very well!

  8. Debi, That stinks! It took about 3 weeks for mine to get here. I did get an email saying that Peter has been really busy, so that may explain it…did you get a signed copy? Mine was signed so that explains the delay. You can always email them! They’re super nice! I hope you get it soon though!

    Carl, It really is a great collection so far. I love Beagle. We did indeed get the masters of the “B’s” down đŸ˜‰ Which letter should we do next?

  9. Have I ever told you that you’re the ultimate bad blogger? =) I went out and bought this book! I can’t wait to read it!

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