Yesterday was spent getting through an enormous mountain of email, pertaining to everything from the "Best of" project to "The Maltese Unicorn" to Sirenia Digest #57. I may have finalized the table of contents for the "Best of" volume. If so, there are twenty-nine stories (well, twenty-eight and a poem), including a novella, The Dry Salvages. The word count comes in at ~220 thousand words. For an idea of how big a book that will be, The Ammonite Violin and Others is only about 80k words. Certainly, it's by far the longest book I've ever done.
One of the more difficult aspects of this, so far, beyond simply choosing the stories, has involved dating the older stories, those from the nineties. Back then, I wasn't so good at keeping records. When you've only written maybe a dozen short stories, it's easy to recall precisely when you wrote each one. But many, many years later, when you've done over two hundred short stories, those memories fade to the point of invisibility. Much of yesterday was spent trying to date "Tears Seven Times Salt" and "Breakfast in the House of the Rising Sun." I genuinely thought that the former had been written late in 1995, maybe in December of that year. But searching through old correspondence (at least I have that), I discovered, no, it was, in fact, written in the summer of 1994, late in June or very early in July. It was the first story I wrote after "To This Water (Johnstown, Pennsylvania 1889)," and the third story I wrote after moving from Birmingham to Athens. So, my memories were off by almost a year and a half. As for "Breakfast in the House of the Rising Sun," I'm still trying to date it. I thought it was written in 1995, but it's beginning to look as though it was actually written during the first half of 1996.
Oh, by the way, while I chose "Breakfast in the House of the Rising Sun (Murder Ballad No. 1)" over "Lafayette (Murder Ballad No. 2)," both "Spindleshanks (New Orleans, 1956)" and "The Road of Pins" made the cut.
I have tried to select at least one story for every year between 1993 and 2007, but it's starting to look as if there won't be a 1995 story. Which, given the wretchedness of that year, might be just as well.
As for a title, I've been trying for days to think of one. I certainly am not going with nothing but The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan: Volume One. Then last night, Spooky and Bill Schafer both made the same suggestion, independently, which still has me a little freaked out. Both have suggested I call the book Two Worlds and In Between (a line from the Sisters of Mercy's "Lucretia My Reflection"). The book does happen to contain my zombie story "Two Worlds, and In Between." And maybe this should be the book's title, if only by dint of the peculiar coincidence of two people suggesting that same title on the same night. Also, the title is not inappropriate, having more than a single relevant interpretation relative to the book and my work in general. So, maybe, Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan, Volume One.
I'll post the table of contents tomorrow.
We began two new auctions yesterday. Both are a bit special. The first is the auction of the first painting I have ever offered for sale, Study 1 for Yellow. The second is for a lettered copy of Tales from the Woeful Platypus (you can choose from M, R, or Z), which comes with a hand-made Beanie platypus (made by Spooky). Please have a look. Thanks.