This might actually be my favorite short story collection of all time. Daphne Du Maurier is a fucking revelation and I'm appalled at myself for not reading this uncanny, intelligent and altogether bizarre collection earlier.
With doors opening for unusual children from all over Earth, McGuire rightly shows the true rainbow of identities that would be represented, and in turn gives us a mirror to hold up to ourselves. She extends Eleanor West’s Home, and the promise of better worlds, to everyone who feels that they don’t belong. Read this series, or else forever know that you've missed out on something special.
It’s an interesting premise: Junior lives with his wife Henriette, far from anyone else. One day, a strange man comes to the door and tells them that Junior has been selected for a space program, and together they all need to prepare his life and his person to go away for a while. But unfortunately, FOE doesn’t live up to the hype. More than that, it was actually a struggle to finish.
‘Whistle in the Dark’ was really a beautiful surprise. The premise is interesting from the get-go - Jen is a woman dealing with the lingering threat of her fifteen-year-old daughter Lana’s disappearance. In the first few sentences, we learn that Lana has been found alive after four days missing alone in the Lake District. She can’t (or won’t) tell anyone what happened or where she was, leaving her confused family to consider the worst.
Chuck Palahniuk has a saying: “Be clever on someone else’s dime. Being clever will never make your reader cry, laugh and probably won’t break their heart.” And this was what I was thinking throughout this novella - really, there was just no heart.
Feeling very much like a novel of its time, with TV series like Skins into its 5th series by 2011, the storyline follows immature 17-year old Jasper, who believes his step-dad to be a murderer and lies to his therapist about being gay and racist. He spends every evening getting high, drunk or having sex with any girl he can. His best friend Tenaya is troubled; something Jasper only really understands after spotting the cuts down her arm.
This novel might have been the inspiration behind DIE HARD - but rid yourself of the idea that this is John McClane. Joe Leland is a much more three-dimensional protagonist, and the novel is darker, more gritty and surprising than its movie counterpart.
‘The Lottery’ focuses on the community of a small unidentified American town who come together annually to select a member by chance to be stoned to death. The story addresses a number of different themes in its short text; that of violence, of mob mentality, of conscription, of meaningless sacrifice and scapegoats, of men and women carrying out their ‘duty’ unquestioningly no matter the human cost.
The novel is painful to read; not only because it reflects the truth of oppression and racial division in this era (and the concern that many of us feel about Trump’s election and whether that shows a regression towards a more divisive society today too), but also because it expertly dangles hope in front of the reader.
‘Fear of flying’ has shown me that we - real women - are not the ones that are broken. It shines a light on how impossible it can feel to be a woman, and on how biased and constructed our points of reference against which to measure ourselves have been since we were children. As D. H. Lawrence says: “The real trouble about women is that they must always go on trying to adapt themselves to men’s theories of women.”