I have been following Jennifer Munro's writing career for quite some time and have known since I first heard her read in public that she was a talenteI have been following Jennifer Munro's writing career for quite some time and have known since I first heard her read in public that she was a talented writer. Her first collection of short fiction The Erotica Writer's Husband is not only chock full of bawdy wit, it exemplifies Munro's gift with words.
THE STRANGLER FIG took me by surprise. I was expecting more of Murno's typical cleverness and craft, but this short story collection reaches a whole new level. More sophisticated, more literary, it demonstrates that Munro continues to grow and stretch herself as a writer.
I was riveted by the title piece about a voyeuristic photographer's obsession with a pop star who dabbles in magical craftwork to keep herself young. I was appropriately worried through "Reduction," a dark story, told through journal entries, about a new mother spiraling into depression after the reduction of one of her triplets.
My favourite, however, was the lighter "Immobile." It features an estranged elderly woman getting caught in the 100th annual International Harley Davidson rally during her mobile home pilgrimage to the Crazy Horse monument. It reminded me of that song "The Way" by Fastball [...]. I loved the character Madge and her encounter with rally participant Darwin.
The only story that seemed out of place was "Hina, the Hawaiian Helen." Not that I didn't enjoy it, it just seemed misplaced within this collection. My only other critique is that the final story "Telltale" was too short (it felt tagged on like, well, a tail). I really loved the idea and wanted to hear more, but perhaps Munro felt like she had milked it as far as she could.
STRANGLER FIG a short, diverse collection that makes me wonder where Munro will take us next....more
I find it difficult to rate books of short stories because my opinions of each story vary. Suffice it to say, if you enjoy science fiction, this is aI find it difficult to rate books of short stories because my opinions of each story vary. Suffice it to say, if you enjoy science fiction, this is a volume to put on your list.
I will never be as talented a science fiction writer as Ted Chiang. Regardless of how much I enjoyed each story, I definitely respect Ted's ideas and his complex and careful development of them. His stories require a mental investment by the reader. Chiang is an idea man.
***** If for no other reason, read this book for "Story of Your Life." There's a movie adaptation being made billed as an "action movie" which is a bit of a head-scratcher, so it must only be loosely based on the story.
Aliens land on earth, and a linguistic specialist is recruited by the government to figure out a way to understand them (they want valuable technological information, of course). During the course of many months learning their completely unfamiliar language, she develops a new perception of reality (and of time in particular). The story leaps from her experiences with the aliens, the development of a romantic relationship, and the memories of her lost child. At first the verb tense shifts may confuse the reader, but the manner in which he reveals information in this story is nothing short of brilliant.
It is so well-crafted and heart-breaking I wanted to cry.
I also enjoyed "The Tower of Babylon" - interesting and extremely vivid remastering of this story - and "Understand" - which is a bit of a modern day "Flowers for Algernon."
My least favourite was "Division by Zero" - but that's probably because I'm not so much of a math geek, so it made my head spin a little. Props, though, for the concept. ...more