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2013 Stories 12 - 14

This is a catch-up post because I was sick all weekend.

12. NIGHT TRAIN by Alma Alexander, from Dark Faith Invocations. There are probably hundreds of short stories out there that involve encountering ghosts on a train. The most frequent, of course, is the type in which the traveler meets a woman (or man) in need of assistance, only to discover later they were helping a ghost find a way home. This is most assuredly not one of those stories. Alexander ruminates on what happens to gods -- pantheonic and personal -- when we lose faith in them, and how losing faith in them also means losing faith in ourselves.  The story stays in a wonderfully soft, dark, eerie place, at one point evoking the scene early in "A Christmas Carol" where Scrooge gazes out and sees the miserable ghosts of all those wretched men who have preceded him to the grave. (Which is not to say our narrator is a Scrooge, not at all. But she is equally affected by what she sees). I really wasn't sure how this story would end; it could have gone either way right up until the very last moment.

13. THE SANDFATHER by Richard Wright, from Dark Faith Invocations.  I often find it hard to connect with stories in which the characters are identified by descriptors rather than names. Names are power, after all, whereas descriptors are often stereotypes. I can probably count on one hand the number of works written in this style that I have truly emotionally connected with, Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD among them. I can add this story to that short list. Even nameless, "the bastard boy" and "the childless man" are fully-formed and completely relate-able. Sand can sift through our fingers, but get it wet enough and it can bind/restrict us. Wright uses that dual nature to show us a little something about the duality in our own lives.

14. SACRIFICE by Jennifer Pelland from Dark Faith Invocations. This story affected me nearly as deeply as Jay Lake's "The Cancer Catechism."  I'm sure we've all, upon the terminal illness of a loved one, thought "I'd give anything to keep him/her around longer." Pelland captures both sides of that thought so eloquently, and on so deeply personal a level, that it brought tears to my eyes. The story is structured in an alternating POV format: the adult daughter whose father is on his deathbed, and the father trapped inside his dying body. Both are offered a chance, by God, to make a sacrifice.  Had Pelland given us only one POV or the other, I'm not sure the story would have been as effective. Tying them both together, having them progress in parallel, gives each more potency.

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Jan. 15th, 2013 04:55 am (UTC)
Reflections on "Night Train" and other stories from Dark Faith -
User anghara referenced to your post from Reflections on "Night Train" and other stories from Dark Faith - saying: [...] -right here [...]
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