Books To Look For
Charles de Lint
Custer's Last Jump and Other Collaborations, by Howard Waldrop &
Leigh Kennedy, Steven Utley, Buddy Saunders, George R. R. Martin, Bruce
Sterling & A. A. Jackson IV, Golden Gryphon, 2003, $24.95.
Apparently, Howard Waldrop has been holding back these stories from the
various collections of his that have appeared over the years, in the hope
that one day they could all be together in a single volume.
Well, that day's come, and what a treasure trove they prove to be.
The presentation alone is fascinating, as each story has an introduction
by Waldrop covering how he met his collaborator and some history of the
story's genesis, followed by the story itself, and then an afterward by
the collaborator, either building upon, or sometimes refuting Waldrop's
facts. Though truthfully, there's little of the latter, as Waldrop is noted
for keeping copious notes on his stories.
Also appearing throughout the volume are a series of short, somewhat
tongue-in-cheek essays on the art of collaboration.
All of it makes for compelling reading, building up a portrait of Waldrop
and whetting one's appetite for the main course, which is the fiction itself.
And while I understand Waldrop wanting to bring them together in one collection,
these stories are too good to have languished uncollected for so long.
They range from alternative histories like the title story (written with Steven
Utley) and "One Horse Town" (a take on Homer written with Leigh Kennedy) through
to "The Latter Days of the Law" (an eleventh-century detective story set in
Heian Japan with Bruce Sterling) which I believe is original to the collection.
I've always been a sucker for the short story form, especially when handled as
well and as imaginatively as they are here by Waldrop and his collaborators. And
since you're a reader of this magazine of short stories (where you were
momentarily distracted by this column), I'm sure you'll enjoy them as much as I did.