cover image Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores

Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores

Edited by Greg Ketter. Prime (, $15.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-60701-358-7

Ketter’s collection of fantasy stories celebrating bookstores, first published in 2002, begins with an introduction by Neil Gaiman and contains 15 original stories plus Harlan Ellison’s “The Cheese Stands Alone.” The stories aren’t spectacular, but the best offer narrative surprises. In Gene Wolfe’s wistful “From the Cradle,” a consigned antique book seeks a new owner. Like John J. Miller’s “Lost Books,” which harks back to the Library of Alexandria, it features an unexpected romantic thread. Although several stories offer Twilight Zone–type twists, just three do it well: David Bischoff’s “Books,” P.D. Cacek’s “A Book, by Its Cover,” and Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s “Escapes.” A.R. Morlan’s “The Hemingway Kittens” serves up a surprising amount of whimsy, and Patrick Weekes’ “ ‘I Am Looking for a Book...’ ” is laugh-out-loud funny. Bookshop owners and habitués will appreciate the palpable affection for literary havens. (Oct.)