McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales

Edited by Michael Chabon

Read December 2003

Michael Chabon and Dave Eggers are the wunderkinder of modern American literature. One senses that Chabon is the talent, Eggers the greater showman. The reader sometimes tires of their endless self-reference, the selfconscious precociousness, the hoopla. Yet their collaboation has been a positive force, a gestalt that sucks other talented writers into their vortex and spreads good literary deeds about.

This volume, in the landmark Quarterly Concern series, is an attempt to reive genre fiction. By itself, it's a collection of short stories by several excellent writers, some of much higher stature than one might expect to find here: Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, and their ilk. Yet there is a certain democracy to the choice and presentation of these stories, and when Chabon says in his preface—I mean, “confidential chat” (see what I mean?)—that some of the contributors “gushed” in “giddy e-mails” (lose the hyphen, Mike) about the fun they were having composing stories, you simply know it's true. Most of the stories are good, some are superlative, a few I guiltlessly skipped entirely. This book, packaged in that media-savvy manner that distinguishes the Concern as a child of its times, is a one-shot event that makes you happy to have been along for the ride.