Note: I am currently reading this for an English class and not all of the short stories are assigned. I'll be reviewing each short story as I completeNote: I am currently reading this for an English class and not all of the short stories are assigned. I'll be reviewing each short story as I complete it. The final rating will be the average among the short stories. Let's see how long this takes me to finish!
Current rating: 3.5
Before I start the actual review of the short stories, I'd like to say that I really enjoyed the introduction by Louise Welsh. Admittedly, I was the type of person who used to skip introductions, because I used to think "why read what someone else has to say about the story when you can just read the story and decide for yourself what it means?" But my attitude has changed lately as I've had to read more dense classics, and I really appreciate an introduction like the one Welsh has crafted: straightforward, giving a short analysis of each of the stories, discussions of Lawrence's childhood and how that affected his writing, and his reception by the public. It should go without saying, but the added background really helps to understand Lawrence's motivations in writing these stories, and I appreciate the thought Welsh put into this.
Love Among the Haystacks Rating: 3.5 stars
Odour of the Chrysanthemums Currently Reading
The Horse Dealer's Daughter Currently Reading
The Blind Man Currently Reading
Unread The Miner at Home The White Stocking New Eve and Old Adam Vin Ordinaire The Prussian Officer [Honour and Arms] England, My England Adolf The Last Strew [Fanny and Annie] Sun The Rocking-Horse Winner The Man Who Loved Islands Things...more
Note: I am currently reading this, but I will be reviewing each short story as I complete it. The final rating will be the average among the short stoNote: I am currently reading this, but I will be reviewing each short story as I complete it. The final rating will be the average among the short stories.
Current rating score: 3.73
The Easthound 5 stars Futuristic and delightfully creepy, I fully enjoyed The Easthound. This, to me, is the perfect type of short story. Interesting and vivid characters that prove memorable, unique elements, and something that provided a glimpse into the world without making me feel like it lacked something. Could I easily read an entire book about this? Yes. But I almost feel like it's better in short story format. The mystery of the situation, which we only get a brief look at through the eyes of the children, remains unsolved. We only get a fleeting look into this desolate world, and the ending is so creepy and provides the perfect callback that it almost feels strange to have the story revisited. Loupe.
Soul Case 4 stars This was actually quite short, and felt somewhat incomplete to me. Unlike The Easthound, I didn't feel a sense of satisfaction at the end. Instead I was left wanting. However, after reading some other reviews, I realized that I simply wasn't in the "literary analysis" mindset when I was reading this. It's a bit more nuanced than the others, revolving around the price of victory, and the sacrifices required for the happiness and security of future generations.
Message in a Bottle 5 stars Message in a Bottle is once again a sci-fi tale. However, what frames the narrative is not the science fiction element, but the narrator's feelings towards children. It starts with his general unease and distaste, leads to possible curiosity and his own son being born, and finishes off with his dislike of children, bringing the story full circle, despite all that we have leaned. I also love how the author so very casually writes diverse characters, showing that, really, it's not that hard. The little girl is described as having brown feet, the main character off-handedly mentions his Native American background. Hopkinson writes these characters with ease and demonstrates that it's not as difficult as some people pretend it is.
The Smile on the Face 5 stars Hopkinson again demonstrates her prowess at slipping in little details of foreshadowing in what turns out to be a very surprising story. Yet again she includes diverse characters, although this time in an urban fantasy with a high school girl as the main character. The story the mother tells, as well as the precedent set by the first three stories, made me unsure of whether or not this story was going to end well, and eager to find out what happens. I have to say I'm very satisfied with how everything worked out, and this is one of my favorites.
Left Food, Right 3 stars Unsurprisingly, the more of these short stories I read, the more I catch on to Hopkinson's style. It doesn't matter if it's first, second, or third person, following a ghost or a teenage girl or a flying cat. She has a similar pattern. Vague beginning that puts you at the heart of the story without explanation, catapaulting you to the center of the main character's thoughts, so that you find out relevant story details as they naturally think of them, rather than having everything explained at the beginning of the story. Where would the fun be then?
This is especially the case with Left Foot, Right. All you know initially is it's a teenage girl buying shoes at a store, but as the story goes on it's revealed to be so much more than that. This story seemed to be more about "healing" than the others, however I didn't get the same sense of astonished wonder when the full story is revealed, and the last paragraph didn't shake me like it did with The Easthound and The Smile on the Face
Old Habits 3 stars Old Habits is in a similar place as Left Foot, Right. It has the basic elements of the author's style, along with her urban fantasy vibe. This story is about ghosts, stranded in a mall. As we learn the mechanic of their particular afterlife, it is revelaed that above all they crave sensation. As no longer part of the living world, they are cut off from smelling tasting, touching, or even hearing any part of the living world around them. The "big reveal" at the end, as well as the stories of how the ghosts died, saddened me with it's senselessness. Not that the author's choice of it was senseless, but their deaths itself were so unneccesary. It seemed if one or two things had been done even slightly differently (save for the homeless woman being killed by the mall security guard), their deaths could have been easily avoided. It was an interesting story, but again, not one that shook me or kept me enraptured.
Emily Breakfast 2 stars This just didn't make a lot of sense to me. It's an idyllic little snapshot in a suburban street which gets slightly more an more strange every page. Peculiar animals, missing pets... the problem was, I didn't see the point of it. How the incorporation of the fantastic into everyday life makes even the extraordinary, ordinary? The story just didn't seem to have a point to me, so it's two stars by the Goodread's rating of "it was ok."
Herbal 3 stars In the introduction to "Herbal," Hopkinson writes "one possible strategy [of suspending reader disbelief] was to never give the reader the time to disbelieve." This is certainly the strategy employed in "Herbal," the very quick story of an elephant crashing into a living room. The reader is flung into the action alongside the main character Jenny, and neither have time to question the presence of the elephant, only to act. It was definitely a successful exercise in suspending disbelief, as I didn't have time to question the reality of the situation, but to me it's just three stars. I like it well enough, but it felt like a quick little warm-up writing exercise, not anything that was really enthralling.
A Young Candy Daughter 4 stars One of the shorter stories within this collection; the premise is that God is "one of us," walking among humans in the form of a little girl. It feels more like a prequel to a whole book than a short story, but while the little preview may leave the reader wanting more, it doesn't feel incomplete. It is sufficient as a snapshot into the odd life of a manifestation of god, and leaves the reader with the same sense of wonder as the characters in the story.
A Raggy Dog, A Shaggy Dog 4 stars This one is just plain weird, but not in a way that makes it any less enjoyable. The more of Hopkinson's short stories I read, the more her style emerges and becomes recognizable to me, and this is no different. In "A Raggy Dog, A Shaggy Dog" the main character, an orchid enthusiast, talks directly to the reader and explains her methods of keeping orchids. As the story goes on, it becomes more and more apparent that something is off. It's an interesting touch that the "you" of the story isn't just the passive reader, but someone actively involved in the story. It's happening in real time, and has some uncomfortable implications once it is revealed who the "you" of the story really is, and who the reader is supposed to be.
Shift 3 stars A reimagining of Shakespeare's The Tempest, which admittedly I have never read. I enjoyed the shifts in perspective, the way it builds tension and suspense until finally the two perspectives meet and interact. I thought it was really well-written, the problem was, I didn't have the basis to truly enjoy this short story, which is no fault of the author's. I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had been able to engage and interact with the piece.
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