… before doing your Hugo nominations (deadline 07.59 on Sunday, Brits), you could do worse than check out the short fiction reviews at Strange Horizons this week:
Alvaro’s comments on “Spar“, for instance, have made me reconsider its omission from my draft ballot, and Abigail is particularly right about “To Kiss the Granite Choir“, which is an enormous amount of fun. (Though I do feel it’s been a pretty weak year for novellas in general.) And I’d appreciate any additional thoughts on, in particular, Daniel Abraham’s “The Curandero and the Swede”, which I’m sort of teetering on the brink of nominating.
2 thoughts on “If you wanted some last-minute reading…”
Re: “Curandero and the Swede” –
If I understand your review, you’re saying you feel a wrongness in the story’s explicit conclusion that anger is a problem to be solved. Personally, as far as I can recall the story, this point doesn’t bother me as much – because the situation makes it very clear that the Swede’s anger was indeed harmful; because the Swede himself preferred not to be angry; because the Swede “isn’t mad at anybody in particular,” so the anger is unfocused and unhelpful to him. And because it’s clearly acknowledged that anger is correct and justified – “You are a black man in America. That’s injury enough.”, and the rage being replaced by sorrow, which continues to be a constant reminder of all the hurts and mistreatment – this is a very far cry from “forgive and forget.”
All these comments are based on my reading about a year ago, and a quick reference to the issue now. I’ll reread over the weekend and come back with a more informed response.
More generally, I enjoyed the story – I like Abraham’s writing, and he certainly laid out a wide variety of curious yarns in this story. What I really liked about the story, though, was the punch-in-the-gut ending, which really worked for me. It also felt like it snapped all the “nice-but-so-what” stories into some sort of context, although I’m not sure that feeling would actually stand up to serious introspection. The story certainly succeeded in its “American Nights” theme; personally, the mishmash of small different stories, even with an intriguing theme such as this, is something I find less interesting than a more straightforward piece, so if I were in the nominating business this probably wouldn’t be one of my picks. But as you described, it’s certainly a gripping and well-written story.
Hiya — sorry, I rather left this comment hanging, didn’t I? It’s because I’m still chewing on your comments, in fact. The problem in part is the tension between my emotional and intellectual responses to the story, as highlighted in the review — the latter makes me suspect the former, if you like. And while your observations about the story are correct, they’re also part of the fabric of the story; that is, the Swede’s anger is indeed harmful (something which feels emotionally right to me), but (here comes the intellectual response) why should it be?
I’m intrigued by your description of the ending as a punch in the gut; it didn’t strike me that way at all. Which bit in particular did you feel punched by?