Kathryn - Kat - Allen (katallen) wrote,
Kathryn - Kat - Allen

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Best of Apex Magazine - review #4 - If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love by Rachel Swirsky

I'd already heard of this story but not read it. I didn't actually listen to much that was said because it was mostly said by those I have little time for (other than darkly warning against people falling into their orbits)

I was prepared to be disappointed - because the previous two stories in this collection were disappointing and I figured anyone with sense would open an anthology with at least a couple of strong stories and that they probably had... so far as they were concerned.



Maybe it matters that I know how it feels to sit beside a hospital bed so I got hit harder, maybe not. Maybe you just need to be able to empathise with loss and grief

If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love by Rachel Swirsky

There is only one thing that jarred me a tad reading this story.

It wasn't the If starts to the paragraphs, some echoing the ends of previous paragraphs and some breaking free -- those are not mistakes, they give a rhythm to the words as they unwind in my mind, disturbing the flow and resetting the direction in which the narrator's thoughts are travelling.

This is a poem, a two stranded story of what is/was and what is imagined. And the idea of stages of grief is overused and misunderstood but here there's the underlying truth -- there is denial, there is self-sacrificing bargaining (from giving him up to giving herself up), anger, and just the shadows of acceptance.

At the end, that builds into a harder and harder knot in my chest, we know everything that happened, we don't need her name because we've been shown her heart and her pain, and we know the future the way she knows the future but wants another fantasy -- him whole and with her again.

The one point I'd want to edit -

They’d grasp each other for comfort instead of seizing the pool cues with which they beat you, calling you a fag, a towel-head, a shemale, a sissy, a spic, every epithet they could think of

Too many names called, and they soften... three, maybe four if you can keep them harder and sharper. Sissy is... weak compared to fag, realistic perhaps, but trailing off rather than biting harder. And epithet likewise is too measured, I know she's educated but they don't call people epithets they call them names... And worse than names.

There is a required lyrical distance in so much of this piece but just then it was jarring to be *that* calm... because this come before she wants them dead, before her anger... I could have done with a little harder, because it felt a little as though the writer couldn't bring herself to wholly commit to the words. The bare ugliness that perhaps the narrator would have avoided but... was she reliving or imagining? Maybe that's where I'm wrong -- thinking of it as a brief flashback when it's as much her imagination of what happened as the rest...

Only still... three or four words in a list... more and it starts feeling like a list and get's processed differently

Other than that nit--picking, RS has written a gem.
Tags: #4, apex, review, short fiction
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