Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Color of Absence, Edited by James Howe

In this anthology, twelve different YA authors give their take on the meaning of loss, and how we cope with it. "Loss" is a loosely defined concept, so it ranges from a stolen bicycle to a dead father to a lost memory. Howe's own contribution "Enchanted Night" turns out to be the strongest of the pieces, as it retells a daughter's coping with the grieve of losing her father, her boyfriend, and her sense of accomplishment with the flute (all at the same time).

I know that short stories can often be quite good, but this anthology is overwhelmingly weak and shoddy. Howe is definitely a good writer, but his editing skills leave something to be desired as many of the contributors just seem to be going through the motions, with some chapters reading as unfinished chapters from something else. In one case (Myers's piece on baseball), the story isn't even a YA story! So, a great concept and Howe definitely had a good contribution to make, but he should have found 11 other people who could rise to the challenge. (In all fairness, Nye's "Shoofly Pie" was also a good piece, so they weren't all junk)

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