The Essential Peter S. Beagle, Volume 2: Oakland Dragon Blues and Other Stories
by Peter S. Beagle
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Pub Date 16 May 2023 | Archive Date Not set
The essential first volume of bestselling author Peter S. Beagle’s (The Last Unicorn) short stories demonstrates why he is one of America’s most influential fantasists. With his celebrated versatility, humor, and grace, Beagle is at home in a dazzling variety of subgenres. Evoking comparison to such iconic authors as Twain, Tolkien, Carroll, L’Engle, and Vonnegut, this career retrospective celebrates Beagle’s mastery of the short-story form.
“For over forty years, Peter S. Beagle has been the gold standard of fantasy.”
—Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods and The Sandman
An unlikely friendship based on philosophy develops between an aging academic and a mythological beast. A mysterious, beautiful attendee who attends a ball thrown in her honor chooses whether or not to become mortal. A dysfunctional relationship is not improved by the consequences of lycanthropy. One very brave young mouse questions his identity and redefines feline wiles.
From heartbreaking to humorous, these carefully curated stories by Peter S. Beagle show the depth and power of his incomparable prose and storytelling. Featuring an original introduction from Jane Yolen (Owl Moon) and gorgeous illustrations from Stephanie Pui-Mun Law (Shadowscapes), this elegant collection is a must-have for any fan of classic fantasy.
A Note From the Publisher
“Master enchanter Peter S. Beagle is best known for his novel The Last Unicorn, a book which has charmed generations of readers. But the briefer enchantments collected in these two volumes also brim with the deepest and truest of his magical powers: with laughter, with wisdom, and with the ineffable pleasure of the imaginary memories he shares. From the gradually refined focus of ‘Professor Gottesman and the Indian Rhinoceros’ to ‘Vanishing’’s crankily slipped-and-skewed perspective, these are visions of an inner world all of us need to visit again and again. Each tale is a spell welcoming our hearts to their real home: wonder.”
—Nisi Shawl, author of Everfair
“Stepping into a Peter Beagle story is like stepping out your front door into an alternate, but entirely logical, world: your girlfriend seems to be a werewolf, the evening news is anchored by the Angel of Death, dreadful poetry is a lethal weapon, and a Berkeley traffic cop has to negotiate a depressed dragon out of an intersection. But then, what else to expect from a wizard of mischief like Beagle? Two perfect volumes that should come with a warning: When you try and go back inside your house, all its rooms will have changed.”
—Laurie R. King, author of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
“Having all these Peter Beagle stories collected together is pure joy. His writing has amazed me my whole life. You think I’d be used to it by now, but the amazement is ongoing.”
—Carrie Vaughn, author of the Kitty Norville series
“Gleaming gold, these two volumes of glorious stories remind us of what is true, though it might not be real, and of when the world was solid as a Spalding rubber ball and shadowy soft as a cat’s fur, though that time might never have happened, and may not happen again. (But it was, his tales insist. But it will be.) We are fortunate to live in a world where his work exists; if we didn’t, we ourselves might not exist. Such is Beagle's magic.”
—E. Lily Yu, author of On Fragile Waves
“The Essential Peter S. Beagle Volumes 1 & 2 are everything I hoped for and wanted them to be. Beagle’s clever and utterly whimsical storytelling is evident in every story, and I love jumping from tale to tale and exploring the facets of his mind. The writing is fun and explores the unique while keeping one foot in the familiar, making it perfect for readers of all ages. I highly recommend these charming volumes!”
—Charlie N. Holmberg, author of Keeper of Enchanted Rooms
“This was an amazing collection, and I cannot recommend it enough for existing fans of Mr. Beagle or fans of fantasy shorts or cozy fantasy.”
—All Booked Up
“Peter S. Beagle’s short stories tap into the sweetest sap of the soul and leave their mark forever. He always makes me cry in the most wonderful and necessary way.”
—Delilah S. Dawson, author of Wicked As They Come
Selected praise for the short story collections of Peter S. Beagle
“Multiple Hugo and Nebula award-winning Beagle opens readers’ eyes to wonder with his latest collection of 13 short stories. Each piece bridges the rich intersection of fantasy and fairy tale, reality and possibility, exploring predestination, fate, and the power of love through characters that come to vivid, three-dimensional life within a few short pages. Beagle’s lyrical writing is set in a wide range of landscapes both familiar and fresh, with twists on Jack and the Beanstalk, monsters and dragons, a singing enchantress, ghostly photographs, and a modern werewolf tale.” —Library Journal
“Wise, warm and deep.” —The New York Times
“The perfect book.” —Strange Horizons
“Beagle’s true strength in the last few years lies with his short fiction, an area in which he’s been both prolific and brilliant. His latest collection, from Tachyon Publications, showcases the best of his recent output.”—Omnivoracious
“Pure poetry. Beagle is an American bard.” —io9
“Peter S. Beagle [has] rejoined the main flow of literature with a vengeance.... His work is marvelous.” —Green Man Review
“Everything Beagle touches, he makes new. Every sentence he shapes encapsulates a song. This is both a delightful and moving collection.” —Michael Bishop, author of Brittle Innings
“I envy people reading these stories for the first time.” —Lisa Goldstein, author of The Uncertain Places
*Promotion at major trade and genre conventions, including Readercon, the International Convention for the Fantastic in the Arts, the World Science Fiction convention, and the World Fantasy Convention
*Author book launch event, tour, readings, and signings TBD
*Features, interviews, and reviews targeting literary and genre venues, including the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, NPR, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and San Francisco Chronicle
*Planned galley distribution and book giveaways to include NetGalley, Goodreads, Tor.com, Amazon, and additional online outlets
*Planned Instagram tour and outreach to influencers
*Advertising and promotion in national print, online outlets, and social media
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 8 members
These were another great collection of stories from Peter S. Beagle, it was what I was hoping for from the Last Unicorn and from Volume 1. It was so well written and I enjoyed each story in this collection. I'm grateful that I was able to read this and the first book and look forward to more.
“Not in this world.” Arceneaux’s voice was bleak and slow. “Maybe in some other world he back, but ain’t in this one.” He turned from the window to face Garrigue. “I killed Duplessis, man. Ain’t none of us come back from what I done, Duplessis or nobody. You was there, Rene Garrigue! You saw how I done!”
I love that Beagle's work is being re-assembled and published again, and that he has written his own introductions to these works. I'm especially delighted to find stories here that I hadn't read before, and to re-read old favorites with his intro in mind. Here, Meg Elison does a somewhat better job of writing the Foreword than Jane Yolen, whose Foreword should be trashed completely, but I wonder why have these Forewards in the first place? Just read the stories with Beagle's recollections, and enjoy his worlds and words.
I previously reviewed Volume 1 of Tachyon’s spring publication of Peter S. Beagle’s short stories. This reissue encompasses a large span of Beagle’s career and features some of his best work as a fantasist.
I had mentioned in my review of Volume 1 that Beagle is a natural storyteller and it bears repeating here. Of particular interest to readers new and returning would be the short introductions to each story, written by Beagle himself. They provide great insight into the original inspiration and a new lens on the story.
One of my very favorite stories is “La Lune T’Attend,” Beagle’s second werewolf short story, and my favorite werewolf short story. It’s not just about shape shifting and howling at the moon, but about complicated family dynamics. The entire collection is worth purchasing. My other favorites are “Sleight of Hand,” “The Story of Kao Yu,” and “Oakland Dragon Blues.”
I know there are many more stories in Beagle’s backlist, and I hope the publication of these two collections signal future publications. Some of my favorite stories haven’t made their way into these collections, but I have hope.
Thank you to Tachyon and NetGalley for providing an electronic reading copy. I’ve also pre-ordered the hardcover for my personal library.
I've been a long time fan of Beagle's work and this was no exception. Beagle's name is synonymous with the greats of fantasy and does not need an elaborate introduction. I thought I would be prepared for these short stories and just would be able to sit back and enjoy them, but I was severely unprepared for the emotional journey they took me on. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of his works and look forward to adding them to our library system.
You know how when you are at a restaurant and the food is to die for, there's a phrase that people say: This is so good, I want to kiss the cook! Well, I want to tongue Beagle. Completely frenching it up. I guess you could say "Compliments to the Chef" but too many people have already complimented Beagle. He doesn't need the praise anymore.
I won't dock points for it, but I'm calling out the publisher. At least in the version I read which may or may not make it to the final printing, there were over three pages of praise for Beagle. This was in both volumes of the collection. I understand if you have a blurb from Neil Gaiman or George R.R. Martin on the front and back of the books. It's all marketing. I think it's a waste of ink having pages of it on the inside, followed by an introduction where a third party then goes and praises Beagle and his writing at length. Does anyone sit there and read all these quotes?
My favorite story in this collection is the one with the Rabbi. What stands out above the rest is how easily this could have turned into an awful story. Minor spoilers but I won't give away the goat: If the woman had turned out to be the lady in the photos after all and fell in love with the Rabbi, that would have killed the story. If it turned out to be her mother, and then in turn she and the Rabbi fell in love, it would have flatlined. Beagle told the perfect story by not falling into any conventions. It has the right amount of everything.
Between the two collections, I'm inclined more toward this second volume. Beagle is fantastic. I may have to read The Last Unicorn after all.
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