Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"When the Nines Roll Over & Other Stories" by David Benioff

Here's a collection of short stories I picked up at Books-A-Million probably a year ago. I figured it was about time I read it. It's not the book that has been in my TBR Pile of Doom the longest (I'm thinking that dubious honor would go to Cornelia Funke's Inkdeath) but I'm pretty sure it was second from the bottom.

1. The first story, "When the Nines Roll Over" is about selfishness and opportunism and the music industry. The whole time I was thinking, Something's gonna happen, something's gonna happen, something's gonna happen . . . but by the time I got to the end, nothing had really happened. My first thought was, What was the point of that?

2. "The Devil Comes to Orekhovo" follows a trio of Russian soldiers on a mission through the snowy Chechen countryside. This is the one that EW called "the best Hemingway story Hemingway never wrote," but I forgot to remember that while I was reading. Even so, I was impressed by the tangible and genuine setting (if someone who has never been to Chechnya can be a judge of this) and how the men lived and breathed. It felt as if the author must have been one of the three soldiers, although I'm pretty sure he wasn't.

3. "Zoanthropy." (By the way, this is a mental disorder in which a person believes that he or she is an animal. I looked it up before reading this one.) A bizarre story about an escaped lion in New York City and the Lover of the East Coast.

4. "The Barefoot Girl in Clover." I LOVED this story. It's like the beautiful, nostalgia-ridden song "Kiss Me" stretched in a thin veneer over a rancid pit of slime.

5. "De Composition." A survivor types in solitude in his bomb shelter and is horrified to find his com01puter has a virus. I would have edited out one paragraph that makes it all too obvious. OH HAHAHA I JUST GOT THE TITLE. DECOMPOSITION. GET IT?

6. "Garden of No." An aspiring actress finally gets her big break. I liked this one almost as much as Barefoot Girl. I'm not sure why I so enjoy reading about monstrously selfish people, unless maybe I see myself in them.

7. "Neversink" is about the rise and fall of a relationship, followed by the revelation of deception. It reminded me of the movie Closer. It's amazing how much can be packed into a short story.

8. "Merde for Luck." Kind of a horrible little story about crapping in your airplane seat and dying of AIDS. It's not as funny as it sounds. What's that? You're right, it doesn't sound funny at all. But it's another one that seemed so real I thought it could be autobiographical (though it's not).

Overall, it's a decent book of stories, but I certainly liked some of them better than others. I wish I could keep a few and give the rest away on paperbackswap.


mummazappa said...

'TBR pile of doom' - lol, I have one of them too, Umberto ecos focaults pendulum has been in my pile for around 5 years now. I can't see that I will read it any time soon. I've just rediscovered my love of short stories' and finished the new anthology edited by Neil gaiman, and likewise some I could leave behind and others I'd keep forever and ever.

Kristi said...

I have yet to find a book short stories in which all of them have been great, but I haven't read many books of short stories. This one looks interesting. Maybe I'll see if my library has it.

Charley said...

I haven't read this one, but I liked both City of Thieves and The 25th Hour.

Kathy said...

Zap--wow, five years hanging over your head. I bet it will feel good to get rid of that one! You ought to do some sort of New Year's resolution to read it just for the sense of accomplishment! :)

Kristi--if you do read this one, it will be interesting to see if you prefer the same stories that I did, or if others were your favorites!

Charley--I'd never heard of Benioff before I picked this book up. Do you remember how you heard of him? I hadn't really planned to try anything else of his but you may be able to sell me on him. ;)

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

That's the tough thing with short story collections -- I only always like just a few of them, and the rest, I could take or leave. Even the Daphne du Maurier short story collection I just read -- some were absolutely amazing, and one or two were ho hum. :(

Kathy said...

Yeah, a short story collection is often a mixed bag, isn't it. What is funny to me is that not every reader picks out the same stories as winners or losers. It might seem so clear to us which stories are great and which are ho hum, but another reader might label them just the opposite.

Hey, did I ever tell you my youngest daughter's name is Natalie? :)

Kate said...

How are you enjoying "Snow Flower"?

Kathy said...

Wellll . . . I'd love to tell you, but I haven't started reading it yet. :) Book club is next Friday night, so I'll be picking it up soon. But I do know one book club member is calling it disturbing and depressing, and another kinda likes it and thinks it's interesting.