The Best of Elizabeth Hand by Elizabeth Hand
Hardcover – Subterranean Press – 2021
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.