Notes from the trail

I’m reading, reading, reading at the moment. Because of some terrible psychological scarring that even I can’t quite explain, I can’t seem to bring myself to pick up a magazine, a collection, or an anthology and read it cover-to-cover, so I dip in here, try something there, taste just a little bit of this or that. This morning I sampled Ellen Datlow’s guest-edited issue of Subterranean Magazine and John Klima’s Logorrhea, and would happily recommend both to you.

The story that I read in Subterranean is a dark, horrible little piece by Terry Bisson called “Pirates of the Somali Coast”. It’s told as a series of emails written by a young boy on a cruise ship to his mother and best friend, and circles around the idea of being divorced from the reality around you. I’m not sure if it’s good – the whole epistolary thing usually troubles me – but it’s disturbing and I think will stay with me all through the year. I then read Tim Pratt’s “From Around Here” in Logorrhea. It tells of a traveller who visits an Oakland neighbourhood and tries to unravel the reason for the dark shadow that hangs over the area. There’s a lot to like in this story: Pratt captures the neighbourhood perfectly, gets the characters just right, and all in all delivers what is probably his most successful story to date. It may be because I lived in Oakland, which made the story resonate even more for me, but I liked “From Around Here” even more than his ‘video store of dreams’ tale, “Impossible Dreams“, from Asimov’s last year which I also really enjoyed. It’s a very strong tale, and is definitely on the shortlist for my year’s best this year.

3 thoughts on “Notes from the trail”

  1. Glad you found Terry’s story memorable. That’s the best reaction I think one can have to such a disturbing story. I too am not fond of epistolary stories, so the fact that it hooked me into buying it is in itself impressive :-)

  2. It has real impact. I think it *may* be a terrific story, but I don’t *like* it. It’s not a likeable story. And I agree completely about epistolary stories. This one worked.

  3. Oh I agree–it’s totally unlikeable and very upsetting. I’m interested to see the overall reaction it gets from readers/reviewers.

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