Friday, July 13, 2018

A Tyranny of Petticoats, ed by Jessica Spotswood

Fifteen short stories about young women in American history, providing a fictionalized herstory of the country.  Spotswood picks up a diverse collection of authors who delve into some fairly creative places. The most interesting stories pick up unusual locales (Coat’s story of survival in the arctic) or rarely treated eras (Tulley’s account of the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention riots).  Mitchell’s spin on Bonnie and Clyde is amusing and ends on a high note.  Many of the stories are quite clever.

But short story collections tend to be uneven and some of the stories work better than others.  The good ones can be frustrating as they leave you longing for more (in counterpoint, at least the shorter ones don't last too long!).  For me, there were entirely too many supernatural stories and not enough serious history.  A greater diversity of time periods would have helped as well -- while the Civil War and WWII are each represented by a story, there’s nothing from the Revolutionary War or even the Gilded Age.

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