Burton, MI: Subterranean Press, 2001. First hardcover edition. Limited to 600 SIGNED/NUMBERED copies. Fine in fine dj. Award-winning writer Neal Barrett's career spans over forty years. A Different Vintage shares the unrestrained flavor of his sold out chapbook, The Day the Decorators Came, and includes over a dozen stories, from short shorts to long novellas, some not reprinted from their initial magazine publications four decades ago, all collected here for the first time, with an original introduction.
Look up "vintage" and the dictionary will tell you "the crop of a single season," or an alternate definition: "choice."
That's the definition I like the best. And I'd like to say that every one of the dozen stories here (from the crop of 1960-1979) is a topnotch example of the storyteller's craft. All right, get off my back, I won't say that, okay?
The thing you can say about anyone's vintage stories is that they reflect the state of the art at the time. That doesn't mean we were all writing in the same manner, but it does mean that what we did both formed--and reflected--what was going on in the heads of writers, editors and readers in 1960, say, or 1975.
Some of my stories (I'll speak for myself here, but you know what I mean) hold up well today, while others more fully--and sometimes too well--reflect their own time. But that's the point, of course: that's what they were supposed to do, and that's why the editors bought them.
I don't intend to even try to be humble on this particular point: I know I'm a hell of a lot better writer now than I was then, and so are the writers who were honing their skills at the time.
Hey, I think we honed pretty well. I still like their vintage stuff, and I still like mine. You're going to run across some cigarette smokin' here, and possibly some less than proper attitudes relevant to the times, but I live with it, okay?
I did, so can you
--Neal Barrett, Jr.