In Sunlight or In Shadow by Lawrence Block
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Don’t you hate it when you’re hoping for great and get merely pretty good instead?
I was really excited about this going in. Lawrence Block edited a collection of short stories in which each one was based on an Edward Hopper painting, and the writers include some of my favorites like Stephen King, Megan Abbott, and Joe Lansdale as well as many other publishing heavyweights. What’s not to like?
Sadly, this is one where the concept was better than the execution. Block’s introduction certainly got my hopes up, and I completely agreed with his idea that each Hopper painting seems to invite the viewer to create a story for it. The results ranged from straight crime and spy tales to more character based Lit-A-Chur. There’s nothing I actively disliked or found terrible in any of them, but none of the stories really blew my hair back. In fact, it sometimes seemed like the writers were really trying too hard to be clever to fit the premise.
It’s no great shock that the best story Block’s since the whole thing was his idea, and what he came up with seems the most effortless that still feels like a Block story even as it fits his painting perfectly. (And I’ll make a special note to any King fans out there that if you’re getting this just for his story you’re gonna be disappointed because while his is OK it’s also very short.)
It’s not a bad collection, and it’s certainly an interesting theme. As much as I wanted to love this I kept finding other things to do rather than pick it up, and it took me a couple of weeks to finally get through even though it’s less than 300 pages so it never really hooked me completely.
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