The Short Version: A third annual volume of tiny stories, curated with aplomb by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and wirrow of hitRECord.
The Review: I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to believe that the stories that come together in any given year at hitRECord might reflect larger themes in the world. Vol. 2 had a darkness about it – a sense that everyone was stressed and worried and their art was reflecting it. And while that feeling remains in Vol. 3, it feels less like it has to do with the world at large and more like it has to do with individual moments.
Or maybe I’m just projecting. But, then, isn’t that sort of what these stories are here for?
There seem to me (or at least to my notice on this particular go-round) to be far more stories of love in this collection. Not in the traditional ways of “my heart was broken and I wept” sort of tales but more oblique. The love that comes from a small gesture, a shared laugh. The love of creating – and creating with someone else. I wouldn’t call it hopeful, I wouldn’t call it optimistic – those words would work but I wouldn’t use them. Instead I would say that there is a sense of cautious positivity in this collection. Even in the midst of the stories of loves wrecked and wept and lost – there is a sense that the writers are better for having gone through those moments and come out with the stories to be told, instead of having never gone through them and thus never had the art to show for it.
Speaking of the art, the users of hitRECord are getting more ambitious or broader, or the curation is, because there are some pieces here that are visually quite striking as compared to the pieces in earlier stories. Several times a story is worked into the illustration in a way that only happened very rarely previously, which is pretty cool – but there are also stories that seem messier. There are two tales here, with words and images that seem to slash across the page, that were downright unsettling. Tiny stories of horror? Perhaps!
It’s hard to pick (it always is) the handful of stories that are my favorite – and I think everyone will have their own, as it should be – but for once I can’t find a story that didn’t land. All of them really work – not even in the “eh, didn’t hit the mark but wasn’t a flop” way but rather they all seem to work really nicely in this collection. But I do think that this one perhaps made me smile widest – it was the right amount of reassurance, if you will.
Rating: 5 out of 5. Another spectacular collection, with exceptional illustrations and stories that really seem to be growing from one volume to the next. The tiny story format would seem to be so constrictive on the surface, but really? It’s about what those one, two, three sentences set off in your mind – not about how tiny they might be. Just delightful.