The Weight of Words

The Weight of Words

The consummate artistry of Dave McKean has permeated popular culture for more than thirty years. His images, at once bizarre, beautiful, and instantly recognizable, have graced an impressive array of books, CDs, graphic novels, and films. In The Weight of Words, ten of our finest contemporary storytellers, among them the artist himself, have created a series of varied, com...

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Title:The Weight of Words
Author:Dave McKean
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Edition Language:English

The Weight of Words Reviews

  • Heather

    When I got this in the mail, it came with a little card that told me who my book was packed by and that Subterranean Press makes "Readable Works of Art."  I absolutely agree.  This book is quite beautiful in both presentation and for all the pictures (and stories) inside it. 

    (This isn't the first SP book I own though; I have Catherynne M. Valente's

    and

    , but I had to track the first down on eBay and it cost me a pretty penny.  The second I bought through Ama

    When I got this in the mail, it came with a little card that told me who my book was packed by and that Subterranean Press makes "Readable Works of Art."  I absolutely agree.  This book is quite beautiful in both presentation and for all the pictures (and stories) inside it. 

    (This isn't the first SP book I own though; I have Catherynne M. Valente's

    and

    , but I had to track the first down on eBay and it cost me a pretty penny.  The second I bought through Amazon because of circumstances.  However, this will not be the last SP book I buy through them because I'm quite impressed with their packaging and their products.)

    Forgive me if I fall into the standard descriptions for a few of the stories; I find it hard to talk about some of them without blabbing out spoilers and I do think it's just better if you read the book yourself.

    - This is a short, almost little comic strip about, well, the weight of words, how heavy certain words and situations are on us.

    - Taking place far into the future, where waiting a hundred years for a party to be set up is not a problem, this story is pretty haunting.  It begins with the main character, Shaula, finding flowers, the titular Belladonna, being left outside her abode during the reunion of the Mimosa Line.  (If that doesn't make sense, don't worry it becomes clear within the story.)  Shaula finds out that Campion, a man from the Gentian Line, has been leaving her flowers but has been otherwise avoiding her.  Well, at least  up until the night of her threading, when she would be sharing her memories with the rest of the Mimosa Line via uploading them.  She finally gets to confront him about the flowers and the truth is revealed.

    I've never read

    , but it doesn't really feel like you need to to understand this story.  (However, I will definitely be looking into that book now.)  And, God, I liked this story.  It was a really good Sci-Fi story and it was just long enough to explain everything and wrap itself up neatly, albeit in a pretty heartbreaking way.

    - Solomon ibn Gabirol, a writer, has a skin disease, which basically makes him a leper.  After dealing with his loneliness for some time, he goes to the carpenter's house and asks them to create a female golem for him.  He lives with her but this relationship is pretty terrible.

    The ending?  Phenomenal.  I loved the carpenter's mother and Qasmūna so much.  The little counts of loneliness reminded me a bit of

    .

    - A creation myth retold with a monkey and, well, a lady.  The monkey creates the universe and all in it and continuously tries to impress a lady, who is not that into his shenanigans.

    This just smacked of Gaiman's signature style.  For such a short story, Gaiman just nailed everything.

    - Valente writes a detective story!  There are two narratives going on, both describing what it's like to live in Nowhere, one is from the point of Belacqua, a detective who's obsessed with a murder mystery novel he found, and Pietta's POV, which describes how bleak everything actually is.

    This was the whole reason I bought the collection because I'm such a massive fan of Valente these days and she didn't disappoint in this story.  Maybe it's because I'm living a Nowhere or Pietta kind of life because I felt like Valente really brought out how there was just NOTHINGNESS in Nowhere.

    - Framed between a script-like visit to a psychiatrist's office is the story of a girl who climbs into a sheltered cove and talks to First Mother.

    There's A LOT to this story and I don't wanna either give it all away or regale you with my opinion on it.  I just wanna say though that I've been dying to read something by Kiernan for a MINUTE and I'm so glad I finally got to because I'm very impressed.

    - A man begins experiencing hallucinations of the titular Yummie after recovering from a heart attack.

    I think this might be one of my favorites from the collection, or at least one of the strongest in my opinion.  It was just such a ... fun story (what with Yummie as a character) after all the other serious ones.

    - In the distant future, aliens have invaded but humans have repelled them with the titular characters.  However something went wrong and they've begun attacking and capturing the last tribes of humans in the desert for ritualistic sacrifices every time the moon ~goes away~.  Sheann's family is unfortunate enough to be attacked and captured and she refuses to sit by and let this doom come to them.

    I think this was the longest story in here and quite a lot of it is given to exposition and traveling across the desert Sheann and Nim live in.  Regardless, I liked the ending (well, not the very last line)

    - In the future, a young girl (Iris), on her birthday, meets a robot (Chip), while needing help getting home.  For one hour, he offers to help make her birthday special since it's been a disappointment so far.

    I've never read Joe Hill before and, upon beginning this story, it gave me David Wong teas (WHICH IS A GOOD THING), but it came into its own and that ending...  I'm messed up, Hill.  Congratulations.

    - Russell recounts what it's like to be a lucid dreamer in his college days and his first love, Emily, and how they grew apart.

    I love that this story played around with the typography and that it also felt a bit like reading a dream.  (If that makes any type of sense.)

    - A prisoner, the titular one, recounts in three stories reasons why they might be in prison.

    This one was very different from anything I've ever read, but that's a good thing. I loved that ending as well.

    - I feel like this is too short to write a proper review of.  It's literally just a paragraph and it's about the (abbreviated) death of literature. 

    (I'm so sorry some of these are just little blurbs, I had jury duty in the middle of finishing this book up and it disrupted my reading schedule.)

  • Karl

    As of today January 29th 2018, as far as I know, the book “The Weight of Words” edited by Dave McKean (illustrator) and Bill Schafer is only available as a physical book. No e-books or Cd’s of this tome appear to be marketed. Thus this is a “Book” review and a review of the book.

    Physically there are books and there are books. Many of today’s publication are shabbily produced using low grade paper, and if hardcover, perhaps one or two steps up from cardboard box casings. From first picking up th

    As of today January 29th 2018, as far as I know, the book “The Weight of Words” edited by Dave McKean (illustrator) and Bill Schafer is only available as a physical book. No e-books or Cd’s of this tome appear to be marketed. Thus this is a “Book” review and a review of the book.

    Physically there are books and there are books. Many of today’s publication are shabbily produced using low grade paper, and if hardcover, perhaps one or two steps up from cardboard box casings. From first picking up this volume it becomes obvious Subterranean Press has taken much pride in this production. The book is hefty and the paper utilized of high quality. A book to be proud to own, and would sit proudly next to any high end art book.

    The collections of authors presented are big name folks presenting all original works. As with most anthologies one tends to gravitate to one’s favorite authors some of my favorite contained herein did not let me down. One of my favorites was Catherynne M. Valente’s story. And surprise surprise surprise the Lansdale story was not a Hap andLeonard, yet uniquely his own.

    Note as of today the two really expensive version of the book have been marked sold out from the publisher. This is a beautiful book.

    This is the Deluxe Hardcover Edition.

    Also available as: Signed Limited Edition ($100) and Signed Lettered Edition ($500).

    All stories are copyright 2017.

    Table of Contents:

    001 - "The Weight of Words" — Dave McKean

    015 - "Belladonna Nights" — Alastair Reynolds

    035 - "The Orange Tree" — Maria Dahvana Headley

    067 - "Monkey and the Lady" — Neil Gaiman

    075 - "No One Dies in Nowhere" — Catherynne M. Valente

    107 - "Objects in the Mirror" — Caitlin R. Kiernan

    133 - "Yummie" — M. John Harrison

    145 - "Robo Rapid" — Joe R. Lansdale

    183 - "All I Care About is You" — Joe Hill

    215 - "The Language of Birds" — Dave McKean

    227 - "Broken Face" — Iain Sinclair

    243 - "The Train of Death" — Neil Gaiman

  • Ben

    I had originally picked this up for the new (actually two) short story of Neil Gaiman in it.... [Which as it happens, both were quite a let-down].

    This is very much a hit or miss collection of short stories (quite possibly more miss than hit to be honest, with Gaiman's feeling like a quick sprint to get something done, and a disappointment), but there is one exceptional story in this: "No One Dies in Nowhere". Which is a remarkable and fantastic re-telling story of Purgatory/Afterlife from a Cat

    I had originally picked this up for the new (actually two) short story of Neil Gaiman in it.... [Which as it happens, both were quite a let-down].

    This is very much a hit or miss collection of short stories (quite possibly more miss than hit to be honest, with Gaiman's feeling like a quick sprint to get something done, and a disappointment), but there is one exceptional story in this: "No One Dies in Nowhere". Which is a remarkable and fantastic re-telling story of Purgatory/Afterlife from a Catholic standpoint. Kind of a retelling of Dante's Inferno to a degree but with a criminal crime noir bent to it. Worth the book right there. Just wish much of the other stories held up as much. (The opening story is good, as is the Robo Rapids story, other than those three, the book is pretty much a miss.)

  • Violet

    I’ve always loved Dave McKean’s work. Granted, I’ve only see his creations in the context of

    , but I’ve encountered enough to be impressed and enchanted. There’s always something haunting and lingering about his art. It’s like he pulls out the clay of the subconscious, molds it into images that only barely suggest reality, and then lets them float off into the shadows.

    His art naturally lends itself to fiction. There’s a reason why his images worked so well as illustrations for Gaiman

    I’ve always loved Dave McKean’s work. Granted, I’ve only see his creations in the context of

    , but I’ve encountered enough to be impressed and enchanted. There’s always something haunting and lingering about his art. It’s like he pulls out the clay of the subconscious, molds it into images that only barely suggest reality, and then lets them float off into the shadows.

    His art naturally lends itself to fiction. There’s a reason why his images worked so well as illustrations for Gaiman’s novels, specifically

    and

    . (Fun fact: McKean even directed the Gaiman-written, indie movie,

    .) So offer me an anthology of stories inspired by his images? How could I say no.

    I, of course, had high hopes for Neil Gaiman’s two stories contained within the collection: “Monkey and the Lady” an alternate creation myth and “The Train of Death” a tale of how the poets waged war against the biographers. However, I feel like Gaiman phoned them in, if you know what I mean. While not necessarily shallow, they were certainly not as developed as they could’ve been. A shame to see something so off-handed by McKean’s long-time collaborator, but the other stories more than make up for it.

    You see, nearly all of them managed to capture the thoughtfulness and even surreality of McKean’s art.

    “The Orange Tree” is set to the image of a woman curled up in the crux of a tree-sprouting violin floating in a microchip sea. The story in response deals with the themes of loneliness and creation set in the narrative of a diseased medieval poet and the female golem he creates to combat his isolation.

    paints the character’s feelings with her words as deftly as McKean does with his composite images.

    “No One Dies in Nowhere” is another bewitching creation from one of my new favorite authors

    . She takes the sketchy image of a figure in robes with a bird’s head and turns it into a tale of life, death, and murder in the infinite expanse of what is presumed to be the afterlife. Only she could’ve taken out so much out of one simple drawing.

    McKean himself also writes a story in this collection. He takes it one step farther of course by manipulating the text to add a visual layer to his literary foray. “The Language of Birds” focuses on a high school senior, his first love, and how that helps him to understand his greater connection to the world around him. Written in a vague and lyrical fashion, the words literally shift and bend as the boy begins to understand and grow. It’s an utterly different and refreshing experience.

    However, not everything in the anthology was noteworthy. “Robo Rapid” takes inspiration from an image of a woman, confident and ethereal, striding through the desert while stories are shared around the campfire in the background.

    runs away with this and creates one of the blandest YA dystopic stories I’ve read in a long time. Clichés of the genre and countless implausibilities afflict this tale of a girl in a desertified future plagued by robots programed for violent sacrifice. The dialogue in particular was awful. Dull and stilted, it was a slog to get through. A harsh contrast especially compared to the other YA tale that followed it: “All I Care About is You” a thought-provoking story of technology and peer-pressure. Well I guess, they can’t all be winners.

    But, overall, I’m glad someone finally came up and went through with the idea to pair McKean’s work with storytellers. I hope other writers get inspiration from his art. There are certainly a lot of words hidden within the lines and shadows of his images.

  • Kerfe

    In this collection of stories inspired by the art of Dave McKean, there was only one story I couldn't finish. Most were good, but the standouts for me were Catherynne M Valente's "No One Dies in Nowhere", Joe R Lansdales's "Robo Rapid", "All I Care About is You" by Joe Hill, and, far above any of the others, Maria Dahvaha Headley's "The Orange Tree"--magical, lyrical, mythical, with language and ideas that none of the other writing here even begins to approach.

    I was not that impressed by the art

    In this collection of stories inspired by the art of Dave McKean, there was only one story I couldn't finish. Most were good, but the standouts for me were Catherynne M Valente's "No One Dies in Nowhere", Joe R Lansdales's "Robo Rapid", "All I Care About is You" by Joe Hill, and, far above any of the others, Maria Dahvaha Headley's "The Orange Tree"--magical, lyrical, mythical, with language and ideas that none of the other writing here even begins to approach.

    I was not that impressed by the art. Perhaps McKean's style has been copied so much that it fails to have the impact it might have otherwise--a lot of it seems to verge on cartoon, a parody of itself. Or maybe that is his intent? Interestingly, the story with the images that most spoke to me was the story I did not finish.

    Overall, a worthwhile collection of supernatural and science fiction stories.

  • Z1

    I originally borrowed this book from the library because Neil Gaiman had written two mini stories in it. What I discovered was so much more. I loved each and every story in this book. It might be a bit too dark for children, but at least twelve year olds should be okay. Each story was unique and interesting in it's own individual way, and I loved every moment of reading it. My favorite would have to be All I Care About Is You, though it does have a dark twist at the end. I honestly enjoyed this

    I originally borrowed this book from the library because Neil Gaiman had written two mini stories in it. What I discovered was so much more. I loved each and every story in this book. It might be a bit too dark for children, but at least twelve year olds should be okay. Each story was unique and interesting in it's own individual way, and I loved every moment of reading it. My favorite would have to be All I Care About Is You, though it does have a dark twist at the end. I honestly enjoyed this book a lot and would definitely recommend it to people who enjoy reading dark kinds of fantasy.

  • Susan

    1/3/2018: I just got this in the mail and I honestly don't even remember ordering it!

    The invoice from SubPress says I ordered it 8/25/2017 -- wow!

    Contents:

    The Weight of Words • graphic format • short story by Dave McKean

    Belladonna Nights • short story by Alastair Reynolds

    The Orange Tree • novelette by Maria Dahvana Headley

    Monkey and the Lady • short story by Neil Gaiman

    No One Dies in Nowhere • novelette by Catherynne M. Valente

    Objects in the Mirror • short story by Caitlín R. Kiernan

    Yummie • (20

    1/3/2018: I just got this in the mail and I honestly don't even remember ordering it!

    The invoice from SubPress says I ordered it 8/25/2017 -- wow!

    Contents:

    The Weight of Words • graphic format • short story by Dave McKean

    Belladonna Nights • short story by Alastair Reynolds

    The Orange Tree • novelette by Maria Dahvana Headley

    Monkey and the Lady • short story by Neil Gaiman

    No One Dies in Nowhere • novelette by Catherynne M. Valente

    Objects in the Mirror • short story by Caitlín R. Kiernan

    Yummie • (2017) • short story by M. John Harrison

    Robo Rapid • novelette by Joe R. Lansdale

    All I Care About Is You • novelette by Joe Hill

    The Language of Birds • short story by Dave McKean

    Broken Face • short story by Iain Sinclair

    The Train of Death • short story by Neil Gaiman

    1/3/2018 So, I just read that opening short-short graphic short by Dave McKean and, honestly it made NO sense to me...

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