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The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet by Kelly Link (Editor), Gavin Grant (Editor)
Review by Colleen Cahill
Del Rey Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345499134
Date: 28 August 2007 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: LCRW Website / Show Official Info /

We are living in a golden age of small press publishing and one of the best examples of this is Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, a biannual publication produced by Gavin Grant and Kelly Link. As Dan Chaon states in the introduction, LCRW has been an outlet for speculative fiction since 1996, be it fantasy, horror, science fiction, or any other genre tainted work that the academic literati look down on with disdain. The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet is an outstanding collection of these stories, essays and poetry that proves genre writing can be literature.

This volume is a treasure trove overflowing with fifty pieces. Arranged with the earliest published items first, the volume begins with the first story in issue one by Kelly Link, "Travels with the Snow Queen," a surreal look at following the Snow Queen though the worlds of many fairy tales. Next are Gavin Grant's views on "Scotch: an Essay into a Drink," which has something for the liquor aficionado and the novice. As both Grant and Link are talented writers, it is perfect that they first choose to include their own works and then show what excellent taste they have in selecting contributors.

Many of these stories are by my favorite authors. Jeff Ford's "What' Sure to Come" brings a sweet and eerie memory of a 1960's small town, revolving around a grandmother who could sometimes tell the future. Nalo Hopkinson takes us to the Caribbean in the fable of "Tan-Tan and Dry Bone," in a lesson on being careful who you bring home. "The Rapid Advance of Sorrow" tells of a revolution of beauty, hauntingly presented by Theodora Goss. I also discovered new authors who works I will seek out in the future, such as Deborah Roggie, whose "The Mushroom Duchess" splendidly follows a controlling noble woman whose study of fungi knows no bounds. While these sound like average stories, there is definitely something more: one could say they were genre, but with a new twist. Sometimes this is through a new way of telling a story, such as in Sarah Micklem's exploration of translation in "'Eft' or 'Epic'," which in four short lines and few explanatory paragraphs takes us to a different world.

As you turn the pages, you will not only find stories, but poetry with intriguing titles, as in Sunshine Ison's "The Posthumous Voyages of Christopher Columbus," and "Lady Shonagon's Hateful Things" by Margaret Muirhead. There is interesting life advice in the "Dear Aunt Gwenda" columns and interspersed through the book are sidebar items such as "A by-no-means-complete Joan Aiken checklist" and "A selection of teas that LCRW kitchen has acquired or been given over the years." You can never be quite sure what you will run into next, be it a story, poem or list of automobiles and their city/highway mileages.

The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet is certainly a collection of literature work, but it is also a quirky mix that has become the hallmark of LCRW. Eclectic, heart-warming, cautionary, funny, informative, and most of all enthralling best describe this book. You will find no better place to explore this outstanding and unique publication: I highly recommend you pick up a copy today.

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