Posted by : atcampbell | On : February 15, 2004

Witpunk edited by Claude Lalumière and Marty Halpern

Eight people attended this discussion, including our founder, A.T. Campbell. Another person phoned in comments from her sickbed. Seven people read some of the book with five people finishing it.

The big question that everyone had but didn’t have a good answer for: what was the purpose of this anthology? Did the editors pitch it under the cute title and then just go out and buy stories they liked? There seemed no theme or connection between the various stories. Few of them seemed very witty and even fewer were punkish. The back blurb promised stories that were sardonic, but not many fit that label either. Generally in an anthology the strongest stories are at the beginning and end of the book. No one felt those stories stood out.

There were a lot of stories in this anthology and although everyone had favorites, we didn’t agree on much of anything. Only one story got the entire group’s approval: Robert Silverberg’s “Amanda and the Alien.” Unfortunately there were lots of stories that everyone disliked, but the winner(s) has to be Jeff Ford’s series of stories each consisting of a single run-on sentence that were sprinkled throughout the volume. Most people skipped them after slogging through the first one.

The most talked about story was Brad Denton’s “Timmy and Tommy” a short, twisted-ending piece that you either loved or hated. One person had heard the author reading the story and thought it worked better in that form rather than on the flat page.

One story was set in Austin by local writer Don Webb. Although most of us didn’t like the steam-of-consciousness style, we did enjoy picking out the local landmarks.

Afterwards we had lunch at Carlos & Charlie’s.

— Judy Strange