Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Bees

Salman Rushdie simply will not do as subway reading. Midnight's Children demands a reading environment with far less personal space invaders.

To the rescue is McSweeney's Mammoth treasury of Thrilling Tales - a collection of new age pulp short stories that are so far a lot of fun, and easily read over a subway stint.

I'm only three stories into the collection, but I'm pleased to report that so far, so good. It's making we want to write short fiction again - something I haven't done with any measure of discipline since University. Also, I have to say that the third story in the collection, "The Bees", by Dan Chaon, scared the crap out of me - and no personal space invading riders could pull me out of its trance.

The story involves an alcoholic father running from his past - which includes rather nightmarish visions of a son from a failed marriage he has run from. His new wife knows nothing about his old life, but there are some eerie similarities between his old son and the new. That's about all I will say about the plot, but I want to say that I read through that story faster than I've read through anything in memory. There was something about the description of that boy that won't leave me - probably because it immediately brought to mind the image of a young boy who I worked with through one of my library programs years ago. This young man was more than a little off, and there was something incredibly unnerving about his angles and thinness, and the way he'd stare at you or just kind of be there when you weren't expecting it. I swear, had someone touched me on the arm during the last 4 pages, I would have jumped and screamed in a shoulder-to shoulder subway car.

1 comment:

Andy Irwin said...

Brilliant collection, I read most of it recently in Thailand. There are a few weak stories though that I skipped, but each to his own taste I think. Let me know if you don't like any, I'd be curious to know which one.

'The Tears of Squonk and what happened there after' still haunts me, though The Bees was also very good.

Let me know what you think of the Neil Gaiman story, I'm in love with him, especially his short stories.