In novels such as Mortal Love, Glimmering and Curious Toys, Elizabeth Hand has established herself as one of the most gifted, unclassifiable writers working in America today. Her equally brilliant short fiction has received numerous awards, setting a standard that few contemporary writers can match. The best of that fiction can be found in this generous, career-spanning volume that no one with an interest in imaginative fiction at its finest can afford to ignore.
The Best of Elizabeth Hand contains sixteen stories and novellas, along with an illuminating set of story notes. The collection opens with the World Fantasy Award-winning “Last Summer at Mars Hill,” a moving account of mortality and miracles set in a “spiritualist community” in Maine. It closes with another World Fantasy winner: Illyria, an achingly beautiful short novel that deals with family, youthful sexuality, the enduring love of theater, and the infinite vulnerability of magic in all its forms. In between these bookended moments lies a virtual treasure trove of Story.
“Pavane for a Prince of the Air” recounts, in unflinching detail, the gradual, painful dissolution of a human life. “The Bacchae” combines Greek myth with a dystopian world view that J.G. Ballard would have recognized and admired. The much anthologized “Cleopatra Brimstone” is a darkly brilliant account of trauma, revenge, and astonishing transformations. “The Have-Nots” is a charming departure in which a small-town Southern waitress receives an unexpected gift from the King himself, Elvis Presley.
Ten more memorable stories, four of them previously uncollected, round out this masterful collection. The Best of Elizabeth Hand delivers exactly what the title promises. The result is a veritable showcase by a uniquely gifted writer whose talent, commitment and singular vision are evident on every page. If you’re not yet a fan of Elizabeth Hand, this book will make you one. If you’re already a fan, then you know what to expect: strange, beautiful, sometimes terrifying stories that will linger in your mind for a very long time to come.
From Publishers Weekly (Starred Review):
“The 14 stories of this superior collection showcase the versatility of World Fantasy and Nebula Award–winner Hand (the Cass Neary series) while demonstrating an ear for prose that elevates genre tropes to transcendent levels... Readers will be blown away.”
“Her tone can shift from the elegiac to the furious, her characters from the mournful to the vengeful (but almost never without compassion), her voice from that of a Romantic lyric poet to that of a small-town cosmetics saleswoman gossiping with a customer… It’s hard to argue with an elegant masterpiece like this, or with the balanced overview of Hand’s varied talents that the always-reliable editor Bill Sheehan has assembled here.”
From The Washington Post:
“The Best of Elizabeth Hand is a major retrospective of this underrated writer. It includes World Fantasy Award winner ‘The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon,’ a subtle, haunting magic realist piece of Americana that made me fall in love with Hand’s work. But there is much more there.”
Table of Contents:
- Last Summer at Mars Hill
- Pavane for a Prince of the Air
- The Bacchae
- Cleopatra Brimstone
- Ghost Light
- The Have-Nots
- The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerphon
- Eat the Wyrm
The Last Domain—Three Story Variations
- The Saffron Gatherers
- Near Zennor
- The Owl Count
- The Least Trumps
- Elizabeth Hand
- 687 pages