Edited by John Klima (Bantam Spectra, 2007)
Literary genres are blending together these days, as mainstream writers use tried and true genre elements while genre writers break out into the mainstream world. Still, the concept behind the short-story anthology Logorrhea is odd: Each writer in the anthology chose one word that was spelled correctly to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee and wrote a short story based around it, a concept that neither screams out for a genre nor provides an obvious avenue for mainstream writing. Most of the writers in the anthology are familiar to a science-fiction audience, though many of them are also known specifically for treading genre borders, and Logorrhea’s editor, John Klima, edits a science fiction magazine called Electric Velocipede. But there’s work inside to please both genre purists and a wider audience; really, it is only the sheer, dizzying ability of the volume’s writers that make such a strange theme work at all.
Michael Moorcock and Theodora Goss are two of the biggest names in speculative fiction, and may be the reason a lot of people pick up this book. Goss gives us a fable set in China and Moorcock has a slim tale about his most famous creation, Elric of Melniboné; both of these are pleasant enough, but nothing to hang their reputations on. It's the young, hungry writers who provide the book's real meat: Hal Duncan’s “The Chiaroscurist” is a haunting meditation on art and Daniel Abraham’s “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics” is delightful. The title tale, by Michelle Richmond, is a weird, heartrending love story between a man covered in hard scales and a woman who can’t shut up. And “The Last Elegy,” by Matthew Cheney [also a New Haven Review contributor—ed.], is somber and beautiful, probably the best work in the book. In short, there’s more than enough here to make the anthology worth reading, praising, and treasuring, even if you find the premise less than eudaemonic (winning Scripps Spelling Bee word, 1960).
Eric Rosenfield was born and raised in New Haven and blogs at Wet Asphalt.