Tim Powers is one of the field’s most inventive and entertaining fantasists, and I’ve enjoyed a ton of his novels – especially The Anubis Gates, Dinner at Deviant’s Palace, Last Call, and Declare. His recent collection The Bible Repairman and Other Stories (2011) is my first experience reading his shorter works. I certainly enjoyed it, but I think I prefer him at novel-length, where his quirky characters and eccentric ideas have more room to ramble around and grow on me.
Still, there’s great stuff in this small volume, which gathers six substantial stories from between 2006-2011, many of them modern fantasies. Perhaps the most effective short for me was “Parallel Lines,” an amusing ghost story about a woman whose mean-spirited twin sister has died, but has plans to come back from the dead. Another bibliophile features prominently in “A Soul in a Bottle,” about a rare book dealer who falls in love with the spirit of a dead poet. I bounced off the lengthy, eclectic closing piece, but found plenty to like in the rest of the tales, which aren’t quite as structurally neat but combine clever wit, subdued Lynchian weirdness, and a distinctly otherworldly Southern California backdrop. A solid sampler of Powers’ talents.