Hot Best Seller

The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories

Availability: Ready to download

At times literary, at other times surreal, this collection offers an eclectic group of stories that deal with real-life conflicts, human values, and coming-of-age experiences all placed within fantastical settings. One tale recounts the author's search for a Kafka story that can only be found in an elusive and quite possibly cursed edition. Other stories feature humans dre At times literary, at other times surreal, this collection offers an eclectic group of stories that deal with real-life conflicts, human values, and coming-of-age experiences all placed within fantastical settings. One tale recounts the author's search for a Kafka story that can only be found in an elusive and quite possibly cursed edition. Other stories feature humans dressing in full-body protective exoskins in the personas of old Hollywood movie stars to barter old Earth movies for an alien aphrodisiac and a young boy coming to terms with creation and moulding his own man out of detritus from a nearby forest. In the title story, a great fantasy writer loses touch with the world he has created and pleads with his young assistant to help him visualise the story's end and enable him to complete his greatest novel ever.


Compare

At times literary, at other times surreal, this collection offers an eclectic group of stories that deal with real-life conflicts, human values, and coming-of-age experiences all placed within fantastical settings. One tale recounts the author's search for a Kafka story that can only be found in an elusive and quite possibly cursed edition. Other stories feature humans dre At times literary, at other times surreal, this collection offers an eclectic group of stories that deal with real-life conflicts, human values, and coming-of-age experiences all placed within fantastical settings. One tale recounts the author's search for a Kafka story that can only be found in an elusive and quite possibly cursed edition. Other stories feature humans dressing in full-body protective exoskins in the personas of old Hollywood movie stars to barter old Earth movies for an alien aphrodisiac and a young boy coming to terms with creation and moulding his own man out of detritus from a nearby forest. In the title story, a great fantasy writer loses touch with the world he has created and pleads with his young assistant to help him visualise the story's end and enable him to complete his greatest novel ever.

30 review for The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    Karl

    Golden Gryphon book 20

  2. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    a reliable source sent me a video of jeffrey ford reading his story from his forthcoming collection (this summer!), Crackpot Palace: Stories and i thought i should investigate. when i finally found him shelved in a bookstore, this, i bought it -- they didn't have the other i'd marked to-read first The Empire of Ice Cream, because a) there was ice cream in the title, b) i wondered if it was inspired by the wallace stevens poem called "the emperor of ice cream" and c) it came with an introduction a reliable source sent me a video of jeffrey ford reading his story from his forthcoming collection (this summer!), Crackpot Palace: Stories and i thought i should investigate. when i finally found him shelved in a bookstore, this, i bought it -- they didn't have the other i'd marked to-read first The Empire of Ice Cream, because a) there was ice cream in the title, b) i wondered if it was inspired by the wallace stevens poem called "the emperor of ice cream" and c) it came with an introduction by jonathan carroll an author new to me but not to karen, who has championed his works, and was my conduit to carroll, and who knows quite a bit about both books and ice cream. i checked book reviews, and one reviewer i respect suggested ford showed his hand in this collection as a candidate for american borges, and that settled things. the first story, "creation" did not disappoint: funny and poignant, and strange, about a boy on a sudden deciding to put what he learns in catechism into practical application. there is much more to it, though, about the boy, and his father, and growing up, and life. it's a wonderfully wrought ten pages, like a ray bradbury story with its sense of nostalgia, and innocence, underscored with a deep fear and foreboding. the next story, "out of the canyon" i liked well enough, with its curse and its books, but the resolution left me wanting, and i began to feel uneasy. still it began to show me where the borges comparison might be mad, along with another story i really liked, the last, entitled "bright morning" the tale of a search for a certain purple edition of a collection of short stories by kafka, with one selection previously unknown to its reader, the story within the story bright morning, that continues to haunt him when he no longer has access to the book, and begins to doubt ever existed. by the time i reached the titular story, "the fantasy writer's assistant" i began to realize this wasn't going to be one of my favourite books. the story reminded me of a mini Bored of the Rings: A Parody of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and i knew this was the kind of story and its parody was the kind of funny i always shrug over, and once again, i didn't really care for the ending. i was scared by "the delicate" and horrified by "the far oasis". "the woman who counts her breath" and the "honeyed knot" seemed more like character sketches fully realized stories, and i began to confuse them in my mind very quickly, and i found "floating in lindrethool" to be a bit of a dud, i'm afraid. but then there was "exo-skeleton town", a really fine piece, more in the traditional science fiction vein than some of the others, telling of a future where old hollywood movies and their stars become the currency of new perversions in a galactic economy where humans are ruled by their taste for alien bug excrement. i could wish for a dozen more like this. ford provides background notes for each story in the collection. while they are interesting, and no doubt useful to an aspiring writer, i question their value to the reader. i found with a few of the stories inspired by real-life experiences that knowing where the idea came from didn't force me to resolve my feelings/concerns because i already had answers, if that makes any sense. in another story i found really hard to follow, "pansolapia" ford acknowledged in the associated note that it was confusing to readers which made me feel he doesn't expect me to get it, so i shouldn't bother trying again. and so, three stars for the stories i really liked in this collection because when they worked for me, they really sang. so i am still interested in reading more ford though i'm debating whether i should try another short story collection or a novel next...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    “Creation” is about what it says it’s about: A young boy undergoing religious training gives in to an impulse to create as God did, and succeeds…after a fashion. The rest of the story concerns the aftermath and the young boy coming to terms with the implications and responsibilities of his action. It’s one of Ford’s better known stories, and I’ve even heard claims that it “transcends genre fantasy.” Sorry, no. This is what fantasy does. It’s the fun-house mirror that we hold up so we can see our “Creation” is about what it says it’s about: A young boy undergoing religious training gives in to an impulse to create as God did, and succeeds…after a fashion. The rest of the story concerns the aftermath and the young boy coming to terms with the implications and responsibilities of his action. It’s one of Ford’s better known stories, and I’ve even heard claims that it “transcends genre fantasy.” Sorry, no. This is what fantasy does. It’s the fun-house mirror that we hold up so we can see ourselves more clearly, and “Creation” does it very well. As for the “genre” part, well, genre is a marketing category, and to say something “transcends” a marketing category is pretty much a meaningless phrase. “Creation” is a damn fine fantasy story, and that’s more than enough. “The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant.” Title story of the collection and one of Ford’s best known stories. A bookish young woman goes to work for eccentric fantasy writer “Ashmolean” (otherwise known as ) despite the fact that Ashmolean wanted someone with mad proofing skills but no imagination to speak of. What the writer said he wanted and what he actually wanted turn out to be two different things, as his famous characters make direct contact with his assistant with their own agenda, though again things are not quite as they seem. From there the resolution shows the structure of a story turning into an ouroboros, essentially devouring its own tail as the meta-fictional elements close the circle on itself. “The Woman Who Counted Her Breaths.” Ford in his afterword said the inspiration for the structure of this story was Freud’s case files, and that understanding goes a long way toward increasing the reader’s appreciation of this piece. That said, with that structure what we have here is an extended character sketch that reads a lot like a psychological study of a woman who, on our first acquaintance with her, is not a very sympathetic character. Yet as the piece progresses, Ford turns that perception on its ear as we learn why she is the way she is, and our sympathies shift, if not 180 degrees, at least significantly. As a story, it doesn’t quite work. As a character sketch, it’s marvelous. “At Raparata.” An unlikely assortment of the downtrodden, fringers, and mentally disturbed form their own kingdom and assume nobility, under the leadership of a wealthy eccentric, all finding the home and the sense of belonging that they never had out in the so-called “real world.” But when their king’s beloved queen dies unexpectedly, grief threatens to devour their kingdom, first metaphorically and then literally. How the denizens attempt to deal with the threat, what does not work and what, finally, does work and the cost to be paid is only what happens. The story itself is about the people, and what they make of the changing situation, There’s no way I can give every story its full due in the space I’m taking here, hampered by my own limits and my attachment to linear time. Just know that Ford likes to play with things like linear time and the complexity of human relationships, and you see that in several stories, notably “Pansolapi,” “The Honeyed Knot,” “The Delicate,” and “Something by the Sea.” You’ll also find meta and self-referential stories like “The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant,” “Bright Morning” and “Malthusian’s Zombie.” You’ll find relatively straight-forward stories like “Exo-Skeleton Town,” “Creation,” and “On the Road to New Egypt.” Whatever story you read, it’s informed by Ford’s uniquely complex vision, often paired with a deceptively simple style of execution. These aren’t stories to read once, because you won’t get more than half of what’s there at one reading. If you haven’t read Jeffrey Ford before, this is a pretty good place to start. If you have, then you don’t need me to tell you what a treat this book is. Note: Full disclosure—The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant was a nominee for the World Fantasy Award in the single-author collection category in the same year that my own book, The Ogre’s Wife, was on that list. Ford beat out me and every other nominee to take the award. Try as I might, I can’t hold it against him. He’s a nice guy. Moreover, he’s just that good.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    This is a pretty good collection of short stories by Jeffrey Ford, and I have to say I enjoyed several of them. Some were not to my taste at all but that's the way it goes. There's a lot of hunting and killing of animals (or creatures) in this book - not graphically described or anything, but enough to notice. Perhaps it's a metaphor for the slaying of personal monsters or demons; a dream-like quality pervades the books and in dreams we often do battle with our own dark monsters or even mysterio This is a pretty good collection of short stories by Jeffrey Ford, and I have to say I enjoyed several of them. Some were not to my taste at all but that's the way it goes. There's a lot of hunting and killing of animals (or creatures) in this book - not graphically described or anything, but enough to notice. Perhaps it's a metaphor for the slaying of personal monsters or demons; a dream-like quality pervades the books and in dreams we often do battle with our own dark monsters or even mysterious entities. I happen to have very vivid dreams and am drawn to literature where dreams are part of the tale, and that's the case with Ford, very much so. My two favourites in this collection are the title story and Malthusian's Zombie. Creation is also a wonderful story. I give it four stars because there is much here to enjoy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Loved the first few stories but was put off by the title story, "The Fantasy Writer's Assistant." I guess it all depends on your perspective: is a middle-aged fantasy writer creating a false universe for a slim, bookish 17-year-old girl charming, or creepy? Clearly Jeffrey Ford and his fans think the former. And maybe I'm over-sensitive on this point; I've always found Alice in Wonderland vaguely icky. But the smugness of the ending--the fantasy writer was the puppeteer all along! and the girl w Loved the first few stories but was put off by the title story, "The Fantasy Writer's Assistant." I guess it all depends on your perspective: is a middle-aged fantasy writer creating a false universe for a slim, bookish 17-year-old girl charming, or creepy? Clearly Jeffrey Ford and his fans think the former. And maybe I'm over-sensitive on this point; I've always found Alice in Wonderland vaguely icky. But the smugness of the ending--the fantasy writer was the puppeteer all along! and the girl was grateful and delighted to learn it!--just turned me off. How come the young sensitive creative girl always has to stumble around in a world of someone else's imagining?

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Ford writes like an avuncular, wide-eyed, big-hearted mystic and these stories are so full of exuberant imagination that they sometimes trip over themselves. Despite the stumbles, I was inspired by the mixture of autobiography and Borgesian fantasy in "The Honeyed Knot" and "Bright Morning." Reading "The Honeyed Knot" alone made me reconsider a career in teaching writing. Ford professes composition at a community college and draws deeply on his classroom experience in the story, which he claims Ford writes like an avuncular, wide-eyed, big-hearted mystic and these stories are so full of exuberant imagination that they sometimes trip over themselves. Despite the stumbles, I was inspired by the mixture of autobiography and Borgesian fantasy in "The Honeyed Knot" and "Bright Morning." Reading "The Honeyed Knot" alone made me reconsider a career in teaching writing. Ford professes composition at a community college and draws deeply on his classroom experience in the story, which he claims is "99.9% true." If so, he's seen some weird shit. "Exoskeleton Town," and "Floating in Linderthool" are both brilliant in a film noir meets Twilight Zone way.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lane

    This may be the most expensive book in my recent Amazon spree. $2.98. I've read Ford's two newest novels, but until searching the used books on Amazon, was unable to track down any of his earlier stuff. I liked The Girl in the Glass and The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque, but I like his short stories much better, probably because they tend more towards fantasy and sci-fi than his recent novels. I'm looking forward to reading the Physiognomy, especially since it is somewhat based on The Delicate, fou This may be the most expensive book in my recent Amazon spree. $2.98. I've read Ford's two newest novels, but until searching the used books on Amazon, was unable to track down any of his earlier stuff. I liked The Girl in the Glass and The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque, but I like his short stories much better, probably because they tend more towards fantasy and sci-fi than his recent novels. I'm looking forward to reading the Physiognomy, especially since it is somewhat based on The Delicate, found in this collection.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Rose

    There are some really great stories in this collection, and it was interesting, at times inspiring, to read the writer’s notes at the end of each story. No collection is uniformly great, obviously, and for my, the more humorous stories, including the title story, were just not meant for me. But I bought a hard copy of this book especially to remind myself to reread some of these stories again in s year.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brett Minor

    I really enjoyed this. I had to read the ending a couple of times to catch what had just happened, but it was a great journey. I loved the ending (once I understood it). I don't think the ending was confusing, it was just so unexpected it took a moment for me to wrap my head around it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Rosen

    Didn't entrance me quite as deeply as The Empire of Ice Cream collection, but I felt like the stories resonated with me personally a lot more despite that. Being torn between genres, the blurred lines between magic and everyday coincidence, the strange wonder of youth. Excellent collection.

  11. 5 out of 5

    solitaryfossil

    A decent collection, enjoyable but a couple of them veered off course.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

    This is a collection of short stories that are fantastical in nature, but were not your standard fantasy fare. The title story was a fun one, as was "The Exo-Skeleton Town." And then there were some intelligent stories such as "Malthusian's Zombie." I guess as a whole, the collection is pretty good. The stories in the later half of the book were great, but it took me awhile to get interested in the stories in the first half of the book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    With each new book ingested, Ford is becoming my favorite author. It's usually difficult to give a short story collection 5 stars, as with most collections, the content quality is uneven, all over the place. Not so here; every one of these stories was amazing. Some blew me away. I never know where Jeffrey Ford is going to take me, but I always trust in him that I will enjoy the ride. Ford's unique qualities are a breath of fresh air. This was my first collection of Ford's short stories to read aft With each new book ingested, Ford is becoming my favorite author. It's usually difficult to give a short story collection 5 stars, as with most collections, the content quality is uneven, all over the place. Not so here; every one of these stories was amazing. Some blew me away. I never know where Jeffrey Ford is going to take me, but I always trust in him that I will enjoy the ride. Ford's unique qualities are a breath of fresh air. This was my first collection of Ford's short stories to read after loving the first two novels of his Well-Built trilogy: The Physiognomy, and Memoranda. I will be reading all his collections I can get my hands on and likely all of his writing for that matter. For any lover of fantasy/weird/surreal/supernatural horror this collection easily stands up there with these greats/essentials: 1) Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link 2) Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman 3) 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

  14. 5 out of 5

    Wordwizard

    Really interesting, actually. I found this on a shelf in the Oberlin Public Library and picked it up just for kicks. Turns out I discovered a really cool author I'd never heard of before. He's like a cross between Bradbury and Diane Duane, with a little bit of Heinlein thrown in. My favorite stories in this collection were "The Honeyed Knot," "The Fantasy Writer's Assistant," and the one with the little girl and her uncle. I thought it was pretty clever in another one how the narrator was a succe Really interesting, actually. I found this on a shelf in the Oberlin Public Library and picked it up just for kicks. Turns out I discovered a really cool author I'd never heard of before. He's like a cross between Bradbury and Diane Duane, with a little bit of Heinlein thrown in. My favorite stories in this collection were "The Honeyed Knot," "The Fantasy Writer's Assistant," and the one with the little girl and her uncle. I thought it was pretty clever in another one how the narrator was a successful fantasy author (so the reader subconsciously assumes it's some variant on Jeffery Ford himself) and then the narrator scornfully mentions another upstart young fantasy writer named Jeffrey Ford. Flipped it on ya, dear reader--gotcha! Just a real spirit of fun, but good at being serious too. I'd recommend it to both my parents. (Still trying to get Mom into SF and Fantasy!)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ekib

    The stories stretched my concept of what fantasy is and can be, taking it out of the usual glacial lakes/forested mountains/sword wielding/Middle Earth business, and I'm glad. They seem to come at their respective narratives from all sorts of strange angles, and the genre blending was expertly done. Ford is self-effacing and has a refreshingly down-to-earth prose style.

  16. 4 out of 5

    J

    Jeffrey Ford is unforgettable, and inarguably my new favorite short story writer. Truly impeccable short stories, ranging from very atypical high fantasy to slipstream, historical fiction, and magical realism based on his own experiences teaching. Ford is on his way to greatness, heed my words.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Beagley

    Better than I could write. Sometimes literary and beautiful, sure but the stories will bum you out. Downbeat and offbeat. I am not in the right phase of my life to love this stuff. Take these in small quantities.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jim Wolfe

    Estupenda colección de relatos cortos. Completamente alejada de la fantasía tradicional, con toque kafkianos y lovecraftianos, pero inquietantemente original. Ganador del Premio Mundial de Fantasía como mejor colección de relatos del 2003.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gareth

    Collection of Jeffrey Ford's older stories (up to about 2003), one of my favourite authors, mixture of unsettling, weird stories and uplifting fables.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Impossibly good collection of short fiction equal mix of wistful and sad and surreal and menacing. Elements of scifi, fantasy, aubiography, absurdism in the style of an American Borges.

  21. 5 out of 5

    John

    An amazing collection of short stories, the best of which tell the most strange, far-flung, fantastical stories with pathos and humanity.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    Can I add more stars?

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jasmin Chua

    Lucid, Kafka-sequel fever dreams; an awe-inspiring delight.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Johnson

    Ford's writing is some of the most vivid I've ever encountered. Each of these stories is worth a read, and some of them are worth several.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joe English

    Reading Jeffrey Ford is like dreaming while awake.

  26. 4 out of 5

    reb166

  27. 5 out of 5

    Margareth

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maciej

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.