I really wanted to like this book. I first heard about it on Novelist maybe a year ago, made a note of it, and just recently found it at Bookman’s. It seemed like just the kind of book I would like – I often read novels and short stories like these, and I love magic realism - and so it moved to the top of my mental “to-read” queue. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into it.
There were a couple of stumbling blocks to me in all of the stories except the very first one in this collection, “The Faery Handbag,” which I enjoyed.
First, I couldn’t identify with any of the characters. Not only identify, but sympathize. I felt no connection to them, and it felt as though they existed as mere vessels to move the story along. You could have dropped any person into many of the scenes and the story would have progressed just the same. Not to mention that they rarely reacted to events the way any given person would react; it felt as though they themselves were the absurdity in her stories rather than the odd goings-on around them.
Second, most of her stories aren’t grounded in any kind of reality; it’s difficult to just jump into her mindset. What occurred was difficult to parse because of that disconnect.
Third, it felt as though she has a lot of ideas in her head, and she can’t control them. They all come spilling out on the page and most of her stories don’t feel like she had any planning or forethought behind them. Stream-of-consciousness. I don’t think it really worked in her case. I understand the need to get the ideas onto paper, but she could have written a dozen more stories to fulfill that.
Maybe she should write a novel or two; these stories might work better fleshed out.