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Zombies Vs. Unicorns
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Zombies vs. Unicorns > "A Thousand Flowers" by Margo Lanagan

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Tatiana (tatiana_g) What did you think of it? Too gross? Beautifully written? Controversial? Did it get you interested in the author's other works?

Tatiana (tatiana_g) I think it takes talent to take an innocent mythological creature like unicorn and create such a dark, disturbing story around it.

message 3: by Heather (new)

Heather (heatherjoy) What is with this woman's obsession with doing the #10 with animals?

Regardless, this story was well done, in a crude way.

Tatiana (tatiana_g) What did you think of the ending? I was a little confused about whose head they brought her. And was the unicorn dead in the end? She died and her spirit reunited with him, right?

Tatiana (tatiana_g) I also thought it was the guy's head, but then I thought - How could her spirit reunite with the unicorn if he was alive and she - dead?

Penny | 2 comments Mind if I jump in?

It was a haunting story, I admit. But it didn't sit right with me; I found it effing creepy. I spent the majority of this story wondering how in the hell they got it on. And why. Infantile, I know. But still.

Why did she go ballistic when they brought her the head of the guy who supposedly raped her? I understand getting supremely freaked out over that sort of thing. Hell, I even understand screaming, crying, having nightmares and needing to talk it out. But her reaction was off the charts--as if the head they brought her was that of her lover instead of some unfortunate soul. It felt like a poorly crafted plot device, as if Lanagan was like, "I need a tragic ending, so I guess I'll have her miscarry the baby then jump out the window, killing herself in the process. But what would cause the miscarriage? Hmmmm... Oh, yeah, have someone bring her a head in a sack. That'll work."

Tatiana (tatiana_g) Maybe it was the unicorn's head then? That would explain the whole thing better...

And yeah, how did they get it on?:)

message 8: by Heather (last edited Dec 10, 2010 06:05AM) (new)

Heather (heatherjoy) I think she went ballistic because had she had told everyone what actually happened, that she boinked a horse, then maybe Manny wouldn't have been murdered for a crime he didn't commit. But she stayed silent and an innocent man died because she was a coward and a perv.

I got the impression that the impact from the fall killed her instantly, but her spirit reunited with the unicorn and what the mid-wife saw was her spirit uniting with the horse. I imagine thats how the horse and the girl managed to get it on too. A uniting of spirits. But who knows. I'm creeped out just thinking about it.

Tatiana (tatiana_g) I'd love to imagine them uniting in spirits, but a picture of her at the beginning of the story, bloody, with her knickers pulled down, is burned in my memory.

message 10: by Heather (new)

Heather (heatherjoy) Well maybe what they do in spirit manafests in the physical realm? IDK, but I do not want to think about how it would occur, ew, ew, ew...

message 11: by Annalisa (last edited Dec 14, 2010 12:14AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Annalisa (goodreadsannalisa) I think the story is open for interpretation because it wasn't written very well so the reader doesn't get what's going on. I also found the story kind of boring, not knowing what I was supposed to focus on or care about.

It starts with Manny, so I have this expectation that something is going to happen between him and the unicorn and when the gross scene with the girl happened, I wondered if the unicorn had turned into the girl, the way she was described as so white (either that or pedophilia, since she is described as quite young, I don't know which is worse). When it was obvious the girl wasn't the unicorn, I thought the unicorn was going to save Manny or avenge the princess or something. I mean it led him to her and it has magical powers, so shouldn't it help him? I could see why the princess kept her mouth shut, but the unicorn didn't have any social qualms about beastiality, right? I don't know. It didn't really have a presence in the story at all.

After we follow Manny home and start to think the story is about him and start to maybe care about him, Lanagan drops him from the story with some vague description of his death and switches POVs to some meaningless girl whose whole section is vague and drags pointlessly, only to switch POVs once again. The whole thing with the princess' reaction over Manny's head wasn't explained very well either, some vague second-hand reference to something I was lead to believe was quite pivotal to the story. And if it's the princess' reaction that's pivotal, where were any of her thoughts, emotions, actions, conflicts in life?

We never really get a look at either the princess or the unicorn. All the scenes the princess is in she's either unconscious or delirious from pain. She has the one line about her purity, but we're never given anything about her character to care about her or story, so why should we care about her love story? Who cares that she jumped from a window so her soul could be reunited with a unicorn who left much to be desired in the form of a lover, a character, or a mystical creature?

This was my least favorite story in the anthology. Yeah, the beastiality was sick, especially since you have that image of a child bleeding and unconscious from it, but I thought the whole thing was scattered and pointless.

message 12: by Claire (last edited Dec 14, 2010 04:13AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Claire (clairecao) | 29 comments Annalisa, I agree. I really didn't like how she easily dropped Manny like that, though I really didn't care for him either. I think I was mainly unused to her writing style- it really bugged me. It confused me, and failed to really grab or interest me.

The princess to me wasn't a real character at all, and her actions and relationship with the unicorn kind of confused me. Also, the story didn't really seem to have a point, and the creepy baby thing was just baffling.

Okay, so I did skip a fair bit, so my eyes might be deceiving me, but......Did the baby really have a flower bud for a penis? O__O

message 13: by Tatiana (last edited Dec 14, 2010 04:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tatiana (tatiana_g) I don't think it did, Claire. It had a horn, or what would become a horn.

Claire (clairecao) | 29 comments Wow, I have to give Lanagan some credit for originality and taking some risks. I think the human/unicorn hybrid was extremely weird but interesting at the same time. I wish they didn't just let it die straight away though, to me the baby was the most interesting part of the story.

Colby (colbz) It was good. But, I was sort of confused for a while. It switched point of views without explanation, and I was like whhhhaaaaa?

message 16: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
My least favorite so far. Not really sure what to think. I liked the plot about the unicorn and the girl ended up together in the end. I am assuming the unicorn died somehow. I do like the idea that Tatiana mentioned about the possibility of it being the unicorn's head in the bag. The whole unicorn plus person getting it on blows my mind!

I love love Annalisa's review. I try not to be too picky in short stories because the author only gets so many words to write it, but this one was tough for me to read. That baby was so hard for me to picture. And really the midwife didn't freak out only the girl helping her?

message 17: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
Oh and the story starts out with Manny peeing? And not wanting to pee on flowers? I thought for sure something was going to happen with the flowers.

Stephanie (stephsco) I was also confused by the POV switch, had to re-read a few times to get what was happening. I knew POV HAD switched, but didn't get who the new person was. This was an interesting concept but I also had to really work to connect the dots. I was also grossed out by her "boinking" the unicorn (haha) and kept thinking of the hows and whats with it all, which in the end was more disturbing than magical. Maybe that was the point?
Many of these stories are far more disturbing than I expected!

Daphne (dmfcr) | 1 comments Very...interesting read. :)) I liked it though I wish the baby could've lived so I could see how it would turn out. And it boggles me how she could've done it with the horse...I try not to picture it.

The POV switching for me was a major drawback especially from Manny to the girl.

In the end I had to ponder a bit on why she died. My idea was that the unicorn realized she wasn't 'pure' anymore so he killed her? I liked the other idea though that their spirits united. :D

message 20: by Rita (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rita Webb (ritawebb) | 77 comments I think you echoed all my thoughts on this story! The baby surviving would have been interesting.

message 21: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (Sarahtdl) | 4 comments The interspecies relations didn’t bother me, because it was obvious that the unicorn wasn’t just an animal. But there were several things that DID bother me about the story, and it was one of the bigger disappointments of this book. The really sad part was it had great potential.

(1) Using the first person voice for a character who was dead before he tells his story. It was weird and didn’t fit.

(2) We didn’t spend enough time with ANY character to really care about them. Manny was the closest, and he was gone too quickly to really get attached to.

(3) The unicorn was obviously not just an animal, but nothing he did made sense. He seems to love the princess, but abandons her. He doesn’t come for her and his child. He only shows back up at the very end, randomly without any real clue why. Because he loves her, its implied, but then why abandon her in the first place?

(4) The baby: The baby was a convenient plot point and nothing else. Rather than have the child live (and deal with what it was) or use the child’s death to set up a judgment on the queen and those who hurt the princess (in the tradition of the unicorn as a creature of justice) it simply was wasted.

(5) The death of the princess: It makes no sense. Its implied that she knew that her spirit would go off with the unicorn, but how? There’s not suggestion that she has any reason to know this.

(6) The whole story had this wasted feel to it. Nothing happens. The whole set up is wasted. The baby dies, the princess dies, the queen and the court that acted evil just go on their merry way. It felt like a huge effort for no payoff at all…no story at all.

message 22: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
I forgot about the story until I saw your comments!! I agree..... no story!

Kaitlyn (dienes) | 1 comments Tatiana wrote: "I don't think it did, Claire. It had a horn, or what would become a horn."

No, you're thinking of a different passage. He had a little horn bud that looked like a pearl.

"“What is that on his forehead?” I said. Perhaps all newborns had it and I was
Joan shrugged, touched the crown of his tiny head. “Some kind of carbuncle?”
The lady held him better to the light.
“It looks like a great pearl there,” I said. “Set in his skin. It has a gleam.”
Yes, a pearl,” said the lady distantly, as if she had expected no less, and she
kissed the bump of it."

The plant part was definitely the baby's penis and testicles.

"He was a boy-child, and the boy spout on him was tipped with wrinkled green, like a bud, and the boy sacks on him—a good size for one so small—were also green, and darker,
like some kind of fruiting, or vegetable."

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