Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Short Fiction Tuesday

My favorite short story I've read this past week is Carol Emshwiller's "Above it All" in Fantasy Magazine. I've read some of her other works--including her novel Mount, which I definitely recommend--but I wouldn't say I've read enough to make any comparisons with others of her work. This one is light in tone, maybe because while the narrator is older, the real main character is her adopted daughter, going from birth to teenager. The lightness certainly doesn't turn the story into fluff--its images resonate. Some of them hover along the edges of allegory, but it's the good kind of allegory that brings to mind a variety of metaphorical connections but doesn't try to force the story (and reader) into knots so that it can map to that metaphor. It's the story of a girl who seems to always want to escape the earth, to climb or float up...somewhere. Until the time when she decides she doesn't want that at all, that she wants instead to be just like everyone else.

2 comments:

Lauren Forconi said...

I don't know what kind of discussion you were hoping for with these featurettes, but I've been reading along. :) I had a little trouble with this one. It read more like a summary of something I might like to read than something I might like to read. I don't know if you have any thoughts on that.

Daniel Ausema said...

Meh, I don't have any specific longed-for discussion at the moment--more just getting in the habit of doing this and doing what I can to promote short fiction zines.

As I said, I enjoyed this story, but exactly why is harder to pin down--it doesn't have the usual flourishes or pyrotechnics that I usual focus on or that often draws my notice, whether that's language or setting or situation or whatever. It just has a fable-like tone that I liked. And when a reviewer calls a story "deft," this is the kind of story I think of: a bit quiet on the surface but working together smoothly underneath that. It went pretty fast through the narrator's story, which might be why it seemed more of a summary to you (perhaps?), but given my time these past couple of days, I appreciated that aspect :)