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More filters. Sort order. Oct 07, Nathan Burgoine rated it it was amazing Shelves: anthologies. I'm not usually one to do this, but I'm going to don my serious hat for a few moments, okay? Before I begin, I'm also going to say this isn't about me in any way, shape, or form.
Collected Poems / William Butler Yeats
When you buy a book and by "book" here I'm honestly meaning any version thereof - an e-book, an audiobook, a tree-book, braille book, chapbook, what-have-you you purchase something designed to give you an experience. I call that entertainment, but there are authors out there who provide more than "just" entertainment, I'm not usually one to do this, but I'm going to don my serious hat for a few moments, okay? I call that entertainment, but there are authors out there who provide more than "just" entertainment, so I hope you'll forgive me the word if you think it's too small a scope.
Basically, you get a reading experience and you get to hopefully enjoy yourself. And the author gets a royalty, or a tick in the column towards future royalties if the advance has yet to be earned off. You probably all know how I feel about making sure authors get paid for what they do, and so I'll skip that particular angle on this discussion. Sometimes I forget when I'm buying a book - even me, the guy who runs a bookstore - that I'm helping an author because I'm too excited to just get that darned entertainment started.
That's what I really want, and most of the time I'm just happy to add that book to my experience. Every now and then, however, it's more than that. I saw this post today thanks to Steve Berman. If you didn't go click that link and read it yourself, I'll paraphrase: an author who has just learned she has cancer is now facing the reality of what that means from a financial point of view.
It hopefully doesn't come as a surprise that when I saw she had two short story compilations available, I nabbed them both. First, we know how I feel about short stories; second, I trust Steve Berman to tell me when there's an author I should read; third - and this is the most central thing - it puts a few more dollars into the bank for someone who should be worried and focused on getting better, not on paying the bill to get better. A few paragraphs in, I knew I was going to be completely smitten with Foster's work, and by the end of the story, I was happily correct.
At times frightening, and maybe even a little bit nihilistic in turn, the ultimate tone of the story is nothing short of freaking brilliant. When I talk about reading a short story that humbles, this is the kind of short story I mean. It is that good. Though I of course wish the circumstances were different, I'm incredibly glad I've found this new to me author, and I'll be devouring this collection.
In the mean time - and I don't say this often - if you're at all a fan of the short fiction genre, go buy this now.
Mortal Clay, Stone Heart and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White
Trust me. Given the author's current reality, there's an incredible bravery and realism to what Ginny is facing with her cancer diagnosis in this story. But there is also a magic in play in this story that was really charming. See, when Ginny was a child, and battling leukaemia, she chatted with animals.
When it finally went into remission, those voices stopped, and the animal songs and sounds became their usual selves. With the return of cancer to her life, Ginny also regains the chorus of voices from the animals around her, and it is in this odd series of dialogs that the heart of the story beats. It's moving and wonderful, and exactly my favourite type of story: our world, our reality, but enough magic to make it all the more bittersweet.
At its heart, this is a slowly unfolding mystery about a woman who is rescued from hypothermia and drowning and who - for reasons not immediately clear - provides her rescuer with an alias. Her desire and confusion and inability or unwillingness? This psyche is incredibly intriguing, and while you know something must have happened, the end-point is one that still leaves you breathless, and here - like in the other Foster stories I've enjoyed so far - the brush of something "other" and magical is the perfect end note to a wonderful story.
This story in particular follows Rabbit and Bear - Rabbit as the Spirit of Words and Vengeance, and Bear as the Spirit of Reason and Death - as Bear comes down to stop Rabbit from his plan of bringing more vengeance to the world. In a prison, they watch Rabbit's work while a horrific man is beaten to death by other prisoners, and then Bear asks Rabbit to watch this man's life over again, and made a kind of wager with him.
If Bear can bring death to this man's life in a way that changes Rabbit's mind, Rabbit is to leave the world of man - and take his vengeance with him. But if Rabbit is unmoved, then Bear will join Rabbit and bring death and vengeance to those who deserve it.
Unsurprisingly, Foster spins a tale that treads the edge between something dark and something almost chirpily full of vim - something I'm starting to expect from her writing - and the end result is bittersweet and finely crafted. The reader's journey with Bear and Rabbit is a slow ratcheting of tension and the sense that worse is yet to come, but the denouement is done with a few gentle strokes near the end, even if the message is not one overly uplifting.
So, before anything else, I will say this: if you are at all a fan of short fiction with a dash of the "other," go buy a copy of this collection - or all her collections. They're wonderful, and right now any extra income can only be less stress on an already incredibly frightening time. Okay, on to the tale itself. But his nose is telling him all sorts of wonderful things about her - she smells wonderful, for one, and he can't seem to keep himself focused on what she's asking him. Still, he manages to get the files sorted out for her, and that leads to a chat, and a chat leads to Well, it leads to learning that someone has put a dark and evil binding on his soul more or less and that he's in deep magical trouble.
But she'd like to help. It probably shows, but I loved this tale. It's fun, it's bantery, and there's more than enough tension in the scenes where the dark magic comes into play to keep the reader a little off balance. I want more from these characters, and can't help but wonder if Foster has used them again elsewhere.
Summary Bibliography: Eugie Foster
This collection is wonderful, and again I heartily suggest it if you're a fan of "other" in your fiction. This tale is centred around a high school reunion, and though the main character hasn't gone to one before, the death of a fellow classmate - one with whom she used to be quite close in a group of four - makes her change her mind about never going back. But what she finds there leaves her uncertain and shaken at first: there's something that her former friends aren't telling her, and there's such acrimony present, too.
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