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2015 Stories 119 - 121

Because I missed ReadaThon yesterday for various personal reasons, I've decided to set myself a challenge today to read at least 24 short stories (one for each hour of the day), out of various online sources and in anthologies that have sat on my shelves un-opened for too long. Here are my thoughts on the second batch of three, with links to where they can be found:

119. DEATH'S GARDEN by Day Al-Mohamed, from Issue 17 of Fireside Fiction.   Al-Mohamed's narrator tells us the tale of how Death's Garden came to be, and how the woman who tends it came there as well. Beautifully written and paced, with just the right amount of "narrator directly addresses the reader, playing the role of the Best  Beloved to whom the story is being told" to frame the story. As with the best fairy tales, the author addresses something we've all thought about: what would we give up to have back a loved one we feel Death took too soon? Would we pay Death's price? Would we tend Death's Garden? I'm not sure how anyone can read this story and not be moved by the beauty of the prose and by thoughts of loved ones gone beyond the pale.

120. REQUIEM, FOR SOLO CHELLO by Damien Angelica Walters, from Apex Magazine issue 69.   Another Walters story full of beautiful but painful imagery, as the narrator is shaped and molded (physically? emotionally? both? We're never really certain) by her encounter with the cellist whose music moves her so. I often say that I'm not a fan of second person narration because I feel it manipulates the reader too much (I feel like I'm being led through the story on marionette strings, and usually I think that's  not the author's intent), and I just as often say "but this story by Damien Angelica Walters is the exception..."  And here I am saying it again, but this time I think I've figured out why. Most of the time (and definitely in this story) when Walters has her unnamed narrators address "You" (the reader), she sets the tone of the story as if it is a letter (love or otherwise) un-sent by the narrator. So I don't feel so much that I'm the "you" in the story as I feel like I'm being made privy to private correspondence, and that absolutely removes the "manipulated by the narrator/author" feeling. This is a story about expectations, desires, what happens when we get what we think we want.

121. ALL THAT WE CARRY, ALL THAT WE HOLD by Damien Angelica Walters, from Fantastic Stories of the Imagination.   A woman's life and loves, from father to boyfriend to husband to child, is told to us in dynamic vignettes in which no word is extraneous. Told in first person, her story is inseperable from the space program which grows up as she does, and we get to see all of the fear and love, disappointment and fulfillment that goes along with it. The vignette format works particularly well here, ushering us from childhood to late adulthood without the need for awkward linking statements to tell us how much time has passed.

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