Friday, January 10, 2003

Cemetery Dance #40

Andy Duncan has a great story, "The Big Rock Candy Mountain," in the most recent edition of the Bard's College literary anthology, Conjunctions #39 (which, if you're a fan of literary genre stuff, you should buy and read right now--Kelly Link, John Crowley, and Karen Joy Fowler are just a few of the many great writers represented besides Duncan). Duncan's story "Provenance" in this issue of Cemetery Dance is not that story. This is a story about a man who recovers a Renoir painting stolen from his family by the Nazis. There's a lot of exposition here, and then a revelation, and then the end. It's not a bad story, but it doesn't have much emotional impact it wants to have, because it's so short. Perhaps the horrors of the Holocaust which are invoked here should be enough to give weight to what happens, but on the more myopic level of the protagonist, I feel nothing. If I knew why it didn't work I'd have more publications, but my gut feeling is that it needed to be a bit longer.

"Solitaire" by Kathryn Ptacek is something of the same. A ghost story where the living are the ones doing the haunting, it has a genuinely creepy ending but takes too long getting there.

"Losing It" by Mark Morris is the best of the stories I read in this volume. This post-mortem of a relationship, and the bizarre transformation which follows, the best things about it are its non-sequitur beginning, its puzzling end and the two terrifying ambulance drivers in the middle. The self-absorption of the protagonist is a bit overwritten and the references at times too cute, but overall this is one is a good ride. Recommended.


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