A quartet of fresh reviews of Patricia A. McKillip’s thought-provoking DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES.
Jana Nyman at FANTASY LITERATURE enjoys her introduction to Patricia A. McKillip’s writing.
Since I haven’t read any of Patricia McKillip’s work before, I was very excited to get my hands on a copy of DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES, which collects seven short pieces of fiction both new and previously-published, a short non-fiction essay by McKillip herself, and an afterword by Peter S. Beagle entitled, simply, “Dear Pat.” I’d always heard high praise associated with McKillip’s fiction — her gifts with language, her deep understanding of the human heart, her knack for portraying the misunderstandings which plague romantic and platonic relationships — and I’m pleased to say that this collection lived up to that reputation, even when individual pieces weren’t to my taste. These aren’t stories you can rush through; you have to take your time, savor the wordplay, let McKillip cast her spell over you. Magic is very real in her stories, and she makes you believe that it could be real for you, too.
DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES is sensuous, mournful, beautiful, and poetic. Despite its occasional flaws, was an excellent introduction to Patricia McKillip’s fiction, and I will absolutely seek out her back-catalogue as well as any future short stories or novels. Recommended particularly for readers who are new to McKillip’s work, but also for readers who want to revisit some old stories along with the new.
For ELITIST BOOK REVIEWS, Vanessa Christenson praises the collection.
Patricia A. McKillip’s writing is often described as ‘ethereal.’ If you’ve read really anything by her you would be nodding your head. In her most recent anthology, DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES, we are treated to her lovely prose, with a collection of stories that are surprisingly different. They are alternately strange and silly, but all are thought-provoking.
“Something Rich and Strange” is a novella-length story about Megan and Joshua who live in a coastal town. When an artist drifter arrives in town, their sedate lives are jumbled, implying change. Then the stranger’s sister arrives and Joshua is pulled into another world that he seems unable to navigate or stay away from. Megan realizes how she loves Joshua and discovers that she has more strength than she realized. McKillip’s stories can be so full of the strange and yet make you feel like that’s exactly the way the world works at the same time. I don’t know how she does it, but it’s beautiful.
Quick to read and at the same time thought-provoking, DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES is for the discerning fantasy reader.
Patricia A. McKillip at Westercon 64 in the Fairmont San Jose Hotel on Saturday 2 July 2011 (Stephen Gold/Wikimedia Commons)
Margaret Kingsbury christens her eponymous blog with a review of the lyrical DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES.
For example, when the discussion turned to the essentialism of fantasy settings, McKillip asserted that “Landscape is the human condition.” While all of the stories in Dreams from Distant Shores deal with how humans and landscape are inextricably linked—even the title suggests such—nowhere is that theme more prevalent than in the novella “Something Rich and Strange.” “Something Rich and Strange” is a reprint, but this was my first time reading it. In this novella, the ocean enraptures couple Jonah and Megan with its seen and unseen wonders, which are rich and strange. It begins when Megan, an artist, realizes she’s capturing odd moments in her paintings of the sea, moments she didn’t realize were there until she looks at the finished painting. Then two sibling newcomers come to their small coastal town and Jonah, Megan’s husband and an antique shop owner, becomes ensnared by one of their voices, which sounds just like the sea’s song. Meanwhile, Megan is drawn to the singer’s brother, who brings beautiful, sea-inspired jewelry to sell in the antique shop. A fairytale quest follows, venturing deep into the ocean’s depths. This novella is an atmospheric, ecological-themed treatise on the ocean and its magic.
McKillip’s writing is sharp and lyrical, full of humanity, myth, and hope. If you haven’t read McKillip before, this is a great collection to start with and see if you like her style. If you’re already a McKillip fan, then you should definitely pick this up, if you haven’t already.
At PAPERBACK WONDERLAND, Susana Patrícia lauds the book.
It’s no secret that I am a fan of the author luscious writing and enchanting imagination. As such it was with great pleasure that I read this anthology.
“Weird” – 4 Stars I loved this story and for a moment there the author had me completely fooled, making me think that I was reading a ~normal~ contemporary story. Ah!*Yes, I should have known better* We have two characters, and it seems as if they’re having a rendez vouz in the bathroom… of course bit by bit, the fantasy comes crashing down on them. It was intriguing, and left me wanting much more. For real, I would love to know how it ends. Or more on how it started 😉
Something Rich and Strange – 4 Stars A tale of two lovers who need to get lost in order to finally find each one another. The only problem is the toll it will take on both… and on their relationship.While reading it, I felt as if this was supposed to be the master piece in this collection… and for a period of time it was.
Strangely, I can’t help feeling that this novella would have worked better as a short.I know, I know, I’m impossible to please, lol.
As for the cover it is absolutely stunning.
For more info on DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Thomas Canty