Thursday, February 05, 2009

Update on the 365 Short Story Challenge

I admit, I've started to fall behind.

The challenge seemed easy at first, read one short story in the evening before resuming whatever novel was in front of me and I'd be able to keep pace. Problem was I got into a stretch of really, really good novels that I didn't want to put down for even a few minutes to allocate time for something short. I mean, with Gaiman's "American Gods", Dan Simmons' "Muse of Fire" and Moore's "Watchmen" can you blame me?

At any rate, now that I'm done "Watchmen" I'm going to be putting the plan back on track. I'm in the middle of a backissue of On Spec (Winter '99) that I picked up at VCon a couple of years ago, and once that's done I'll crack open one of the anthologies I aquired recently and bring the tally up to where it should be, or even put myself ahead of the game again. I'm thinking either of the Australian collection "Dreaming Again" that wife gave to me for Christmas, or "Gaslight Grimoire" (an anthology of fantasy riffs on Sherlock Holmes) which I got at VCon last fall.

As for thoughts on some of the short stories I read just prior to the recent hiatus, the only one that really sticks out in my mind was Claude Lalumiere's "Njabo" (again from a backissue of On Spec - Fall '03). It's the tale of an artist living in a multi-partner family who struggles to come to grips with dreams where her daughter becomes an elephant and leads other pachyderms on a crusade to rid the world of their human tormentors. The strange situations Lalumiere presents always demand that the reader go hunting for metaphors amongst the brush of the story. Here, the obvious one seems to be of the power of art, or, because of the child, of any creative act, to force us to re-evaluate our perception of the world, and to bring the possibility of radical change. Given the diverse natures of the narrator and her partners, and that dispite their differnces they continue to stay together as a family unit and love one-another, and with their ultimate fate steered by the daughter, I wonder too if Lalumiere is using the family as allegory for a Canada, with its diversity, struggling with changing identity, staying together despite the differences of its components, and perhaps with a large, world-changing destiny (though I would hope for one not nearly as violent as that implied by the child's transformation). Always enjoyable to read his stuff.

Now back to the challenge and making up lost ground.

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