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2015 Stories 272 - 274

The three stories in this post are from the anthology My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, edited by Kate Bernheimer.

272. A KISS TO WAKE THE SLEEPER by Rabih Alameddine.  A variation on Sleeping Beauty with a neat twist that mixes the modern with the mythical. A modern girl who has grown up in a bubble thanks to combined immunodeficiency syndrome is taked by her mother to a mysterious cult of nuns who may have a cure. The nuns send her on a perilous journey to the castle of a sleeping princess. Would what the girl witnesses have happened even is she had not been present, or is she the catalyst? The story, to me, explores the concept that the reader influences the story being read just as much as the story influences the reader. Also, the author holds nothing back when he gets to the crucial moment of the fairy tale, so  the squeamish may want to be prepared.

273. BLUE-BEARDED LOVER by Joyce Carol Oates.  Bluebeard's latest conquest faces the same test as her predecessors: whether or not to unlock the forbidden door behind which are the pirate's secrets. Full of stark imagery and a lead character who knows how to turn expectations around and to her advantage, and all told in less than three pages, showing why Oates is one of our greatest short story authors.

274. THE ERLKING by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum.  Kate takes her daughter Ondine (aka Ruthie) to a fundraising Elves Festival at the local Waldorf School. Kate is distracted by the anxieties of choosing the right school for her daughter and setting the right example. Ruthie is absorbed by the sight of strange man whose very presence threatens to seduce her away from her mother. The POV shifts almost seamlessly between Kate and Ruthie multiple times. It's really just masterful how smooth Bynum's transistions are, how the story never loses momentum despite the frequent changes in POV.

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