The first review of All These Little Worlds has been posted, by Valerie O’Riordan over at Bookmunch. I’m pleased to see that it’s a good one, with the reviewer rating All These Little Worlds even more highly than Various Authors. You can read the review here.
Getting the first reviews is always exciting, almost regardless of whether they’re positive or negative. (One of the stranger aspects of moving from book blogging to publishing is finding oneself at the sharp end of a sword that one was previously wielding, and realising just how pointy it actually is.) As we have a tight publication schedule, review copies tend to go out around publication date, meaning that we have to wait a few weeks for the first ones to come in. It’s a tense wait, but when they do arrive, it’s interesting to see the different perspectives on the stories, and on the anthology as a whole. I’m always proud and excited when a story is received well, and when it hasn’t gone down well, I have to think about whether I could have presented the story better, perhaps through placing it elsewhere in the book, or next to other stories.
The order of stories in the book is one of the things that Valerie picks up on in the review, and it’s a key part of the editor’s art. Maxwell Perkins, the famous Scribner’s editor who worked with the likes of Fitzgerald and Hemingway*, believed in arranging anthologies with the strongest story collections at the beginning, middle, and end, with the weaker ones filling the gaps between. That’s a good approach, but much more practical with single-author collections than with anthologies containing multiple authors. (For a start, if you always do that, then the authors might take an implied insult to their work from where you put them…) Planning the order of stories in a multi-author collection takes in other ideas about theme, pacing, length, style and so on. It’s a fascinating skill, a big part of putting together an anthology, and one that I’m just now beginning (I hope) to acquire. It’s nice to see a reviewer address the order of stories.
Anyway, it’s a very interesting review, and does a good job of explaining what’s in the book, and perhaps also why you should read it. So go and have a look!
* And many others; Perkins had a fascinating career, which involved him with many of what we now think of as the great American authors of the period. It’s worth tracking down a copy of A Scott Berg’s biography if you can find one.