Friday, May 16, 2008

Up All Night - Various Authors

Up All Night is a collection of short stories by six awarding winning and best selling authors. Peter Abrahams Libba Bray, David Levithan, Patricia McCormick, Sarah Weeks and Gene Luen Yang. Growing up I didn't read many short stories. Its only in the last few years that I've begun to appreciate there beauty. Though if I had read Up All Night in high school, I'd have a bookshelf filled with short stories. I loved this collection and the titles were perfect. If a professor was teaching a course on writing short stories Up All Night could be on the sylabus. The writing was precise and staccato (and yes I know that's a music term I am using it anyway). I think it applies perfectly. A musician must play a staccato note short and sharp. If too long its loses its magic.

The same is true of a short story. A writers word choice must be short and sharp. There's no room for excess words, the body of the story comes too quickly. These six authors chose their words carefully, creating wonderful stories that easily pulled me in. The stories are not connected the only thing they have in common, the characters must stay up all night.

Peter Abrahams's Phase 2 is about two boys desire to protect their mother. In Libba Bray's Not Just for Breakfast Anymore four friends go to a concert. I love that Bray was able to give glimpses of each characters personality and the dynamics of their friendship. David Levithan's The Vulnerable Hours is about getting beyond the polite answer. Going in I thought Levithan's story would be technically the strongest (not the best mind you, that's always a matter of opinion.) because he is an editor. He proved me right, it was crazy cool what Levithan did blending what seem like two short stories together. Patricia McCormick's Orange Alert is about a girl who learns to drive. The last line is great and pure justice. McCormick fans should definitely read Orange Alert. I was pleasantly surprised by Sarah Weeks story Superman is Dead. At the end I expected one thing, Weeks gave me something much better. Gene Luen Yang's The Motherless One is about a monkey's search for his mother.

There is no weak link with this collection. Usually when I write about a book I've enjoyed I'll share some lines, this time I won't. Each word means so much, I don't want to ruin the surprises for the next reader.

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