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August 16, 2012 Edition
Tender at times, terrifying at others, Monette is a master at writing novels and stories that touch nerves and have readers looking over their shoulders. This collection of short stories is no exception. There are brief stories, like “A Light in Troy” in which a small flower of hope blooms as a slave woman from a conquered people tames a wild boy and befriends her Master. Lines between dreams and waking life blur in longer stories such as “The World Without Sleep” where angels and vampires, goblins and shadows exist in a complex system of hierarchy, lies, willful blindness, and good intentions. And there is lingering sadness as a woman chooses between a long and mortal life with her human husband and a glorious quick burning with the Queen of the Elves. These haunting stories will remain with readers for a long time.
|Robert Jackson Bennett|
Young George Carole has worked the vaudeville circuit for several of his sixteen years, building his reputation as a pianist and earning his living, and all the while secretly searching out the Silenus Troupe. He believes that the man behind the troupe, Heironomo Silenus, is his father, and is anxious to show Silenus that he has a son to be proud of. But when he finally finds the troupe, George realizes that the odd men in gray, who spread an eerie silence around them when they appear at his own shows, seem to be looking for Silenus, too. When he warns his father’s troupe, he finds himself abruptly slipped into another sort of existence entirely, one where reflections can be decoys and men can be wolves. Readers who live for the next Neil Gaiman book should give Bennett a try – his dark worlds, thoughtful characters, and word play are satisfyingly similar and yet wholly his own.
The islands of St. Kilda, windswept and wave-beaten, are some of the most desolate and isolated places in the world. Set apart from mainland Scotland by days of rowing and sailing the sometimes 12-foot waves, there are no more than 150 people when the Reverend Neil MacKenzie and his wife Lizzie arrive in 1830, eager to make a difference to their new flock. The Reverend starts day and Sunday schools and Lizzie revels in the bright blue of the sky and green of the earth that is so different from the coal-grey landscape of Paisley. But then a fall brings her first baby too early, and the two mainlanders begin to learn about the darker side of life on the island. Neil and Lizzie approach their responsibilities to their parishioners and their growing family very differently, and the harsh realities of life in such isolation play havoc with their affections and even their sanity. Readers will be drawn in by the beauty of Altenberg’s writing and the immediacy of Lizzie’s life.
This collection of short stories by Philippines-born writer Tenorio is mesmerizing and lyrical. In the title story, an aging movie actress and her director-lover are going to Hollywood to reclaim their lost popularity (their style of movie fell by the wayside when American films appeared in the Philippines), only to find themselves killing their old selves off. The haunting “The View from Culion” shows us life in a leper colony, where a young Filipina is very slowly beginning come to terms with her new life, a decade after being ripped from her home in California and left by her mother to live or die. Tenorio writes fluidly about the longing for home (wherever that may be), differences in world views between the generations, and cultural differences that shape lives.