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2013 Stories 136 - 141

I've been meaning to write these 6 reviews for about a week now; together they brought me up-to-date on the contents of the current run of CROSSED GENRES magazine (These are the stories from #'s 1 and 5; I reviewed #'s 2, 3 and 4 HERE). So what showed up in email today? Issue #6. Guess I'm behind schedule again. ;-)


136. DESIRE by Megan Arkenberg  The national boundaries of the countries in the background of Arkenberg's story are, perhaps appropriately, vaguely drawn. This mirrors the vague descriptions of the title character. Through effectively used interviews and other found documents, Arkenberg gives us the career of a flamboyant composer/architect named Desire, but very little physical description or access to the composer's personal life. The author harkens back to a time when we didn't know every detail of a celebrity's private life despite the public's urge to know. It's clear in the story that Desire's closest friends don't even know the composer's history beyond the first big splash of fame.  The story also works on a second level, exploring the effect art, especially art that focuses on the heroic ideal, has on world events.  A very, very effective story on so many levels.

137. THREE SLATS OF METAL, PAINTED by Alex Dally  Left alone to explore a nearly-empty old strip mall, a young girl measures everything she finds, including a painting of four bird-people on the slats of a closed store-front. She decides she needs to set them free.  Are the boundaries of the painting the boundaries of the bird-people's lives, and is the strip-mall the boundary of the girl's?  An intriguing premise very poetically written.

138. WANDER by Rachel Bender  A prisoner of war is pressed to use her ability to "travel" through daydreams to draw maps for the use of the army that conquered her own village. Her conquerors think they're bringing civilization to the rural world; their victims see only destruction. One of her captors offers her a way out of her jail cell, but at a price.  I loved the limited-yet-expanded point-of-view of this story. The main character is stuck in a stone tower on the seafront, far from anything else and set atop an impenetrable maze, and yet her mind can roam far afield, enabling her to draw maps the army can use.  This gives us the opportunity to see the character both in and out of captivity without the use of flashbacks, and thus better understand the hard decision she makes near the story's end.


139. THEY SHALL FLOURISH AND SPREAD by Andrew S. Fuller  Many authors attempt to document the refugee experience, the mass migrations brought about by famine, disaster or (more common these days) war or genocide. In Fuller's story, the mass migration takes the form of an unending tunnel (the description of which reminded me a bit of intestines, honestly) from the home planet to an unknown destination. Generations die on the walk. Once a child is old enough to sleep-walk, families stop moving only long enough to go to the bathroom or make love. There is a sense of weariness that permeates Fuller's story, and a certain level of doubt that things are really what they seem (in real life, we constantly question religious truths; so do the characters in this story). There is also a sense of hope, that if things aren't what they seem then perhaps the truth is better despite being unspeakable.  The end of the story gives one possible answer, but I also got the sense that the end of the voyage is not the same for everyone.

140. VINTAGE MILLENIAL COOKERY INFOMANUAL BY THE GEUSIAN LADIES SOCIETY by Sylvia Sprock Wrigley  The various narrators of Wrigley's story are the civilian partners/spouses of a military detachment on a remote base that circles an uninhabited planet. The military detachment has been away for longer than anticipated, and one of the partners decides to start a cook-book project to fill the lonely hours.  Tensions boiling in the station are brought to light through the postings to the cook-book's pages.  Wrigley does a marvelous job of projecting ahead to a time when all "food" consumed by people is made of chemicals; none of that nasty naturally-occurring organic stuff for most of these women.  Another strong facet of the story is the expansion on what I think is currently called "sub-tweeting" or "indirecting." Several of these characters are excellent at verbally cutting a peer down without directly addressing them. The story reminded me of the movie THE WOMEN (the original; I've never seen the remake).

141. GONE by Chad Williamson  Williamson's story is set in the very real coal-mining Appalachian hills of West Virginia, into which a young girl is born who can just suddenly disappear and reappear, often with a trinket or souvenir of her travels -- trinkets her parents don't always understand.  Our narrator is the girl's mother, who doesn't understand her daughter's ability to escape their town and perhaps also doesn't understand why the child would keep coming back. Both thoughts seem alien to her.  Williamson's strong suit in this story is the mother's completely insular mindset coupled with the claustrophobia one associates with small mountain towns in the 1920s, and his ability to make you sympathize with the woman.

EDIT: I accidentally posted this to my own LJ earlier today and not to this community, so if you're seeing this twice in your Friends feed, that's why. The other entry will be deleted once this one posts


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 2nd, 2013 01:42 am (UTC)
great post.. very well said..
Jun. 2nd, 2013 03:08 am (UTC)
Thank you. I do hope you actually read the post and that you're not a spam-bot of some kind. I only see a couple of posts on your page and they're all game related.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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