Looking for Jake: Stories: 12/08/10
In April 2009 I stopped scheduling my reviews ahead of time. The scheduling process was making reading and blogging feel like homework. Since it's currently an unpaid hobby for me, I decided I had to stop being a slave to the calendar even if it meant falling behind on reviews. To keep things interesting on the review side of things, I started picking which book or short story to review next by random. This process has the advantage of giving every recently finished book or story the chance of being reviewed immediately. The flip side of it, though, is that some things can and do fall through the cracks.
Take for instance, Looking for Jake, a short story collection by China Miéville. It feels to me like I just read it. His stories have that effect on me. But at the same time, I can remember observing the strange coincidence of reading "'Tis the Season" while listening to Christmas music. We were sitting outside on a chilly November day at the Soledad Starbucks. We were on our way home from Thanksgiving and were planning our first Christmas at home. Here it is now, a year later.
Looking for Jake is an excellent collection of short stories. Although Miéville is probably best known now for his long and complicated adult science fiction novels, I think he excels in shorter forms.
The title story is set in the same world as Perdido Street Station. It gives some background into how London came to be the way it is in the novel. I'm glad I had read the novel before reading the short story. Had I not, though, there was still enough there to make a compelling story.
There is also a nod at Un Lun Dun in "Reports of Certain Events in London." I hadn't read the novel yet so seeing the connection when I did later in the spring was a lot of fun.
One of my favorites though is "Details" which to this day has me wary of the cracks in walls and the other random details one sees in the course of a day. Imagine if those flaws in life were actually part of a greater evil. That's the gist of the story. It's so simplistic in its execution and yet so deliciously creepy!
"An End to Hunger" set back in the days of the Nintendo 64, while dated by its technological references is still a fun read. It was also the very first China Miéville piece I had ever read (and like Stardust with Neil Gaiman, had completely forgotten about). So it was a nice surprise and a recovered memory of a new year's morning almost a decade earlier reading short stories at my in-laws' house.
I recommend this collection to short story lovers, urban fantasy lovers and China Miéville fans who haven't tried his short fiction yet.
Comment #1: Thursday, December, 9, 2010 at 11:54:46
I really wanted to read Mieville for my Steampunk, but he's hard to come by at the library. Thanks for a little more input into what he writes. I just might have to check out his short stories.
Comment #2: Monday, December 13, 2010 at 20:13:15
He's worth reading if you can find his books. My all time favorite books of his is Un Lun Dun.