Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Surgeon's Tale and Other Stories by Cat Rambo and Jeff VanderMeer

We live in an age when just about anyone can publish a book, which can be good and bad. It leads to all sorts of unfortunate POD presses, and it also leads to two good writers deciding to publish a book of their short stories, just because they can.

And so they did; The Surgeon's Tale is published by "Two Free Lancers Press" -- that is, Rambo and VanderMeer themselves.

This is a slim book, but it's also cheap (particularly for a small-press trade paperback). The byline is a little confusing, since The Surgeon's Tale and Other Stories collects six stories, but only one of them (the title piece) is actually by both Rambo and VanderMeer.

Of the remaining stories, one ("The Farmer's Cat") is by VanderMeer alone, one ("The Strange Case of the Lovecraft Cafe") is by VanderMeer with two other writers, and three (including "The Dead Girl's Wedding March," which even I've heard of) are by Rambo alone.

The title story is the longest and best; a creepy story of an obsessed surgeon and the woman he tries to bring back to life. It originally appeared in Subterranean, and is still available there online. (I personally hate reading things online, so I'd suggest going over there, checking out the first few paragraphs, and, if you like it, buying the book. If you prefer reading online, there might be less impetus to buy the book...but I still think it would be a good idea.)

"Lovecraft Cafe" is minor, an odd pastiche taking Lovecraftian metaphors into unexpected culinary regions. "Farmer's Cat" is also pretty minor, though I liked reading it again.

Rambo's solo stories are a bit more substantial, but she's a newer writer, and needs to build up her reputation. She's certainly someone whose work I'll be looking out from now on; before she was just a name to be. (And I think she was at World Fantasy, where I missed meeting her -- however, I did meet Cat Sparks and ran into Cat Valente, which is a lot for a man who doesn't much like cats.)

I myself don't read as much short fiction as I'd like to, but I keep accumulating collections (and, less often, anthologies), in the hopes that I'll suddenly start reading masses of short stories. I might even buy a Cat Rambo solo collection, if one pops up. She's an interesting new writer, and I'd like to read more of her stuff.

1 comment:

Cat Rambo said...

If you remember a tall woman with bright purple hair at WFC -- that was me. Thanks for appreciating the book!

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