" If people .. want to quibble about where my stories fit..." Margo Lanagan, Black Juice (New York: Eos Harper Collins, 2004)
Due out in March 2005. There will be no spoilers in this note.
Black Juice is a short collection of astonishing, elegant, destabilizing stories aimed by Harper Collins at the teen market. Some of the stories are clearly fantasy, "Yowlinins" seems to be science fiction. Truly it doesn't matter because what strikes this reader is that each one of the stories has captured the essence of being in the world with its constant negotiation with new pains and the sense that the world itself, looked at the right way, itself exudes the stuff of fantasy. All of which sounds terribly pious.
There is nothing preachy about Black Juice . In the first story, "Singing My Sister Down", a boy tells of accompanying his sister to her execution. The tone of the story is lyrically pragmatic, its passion and grief is in the tears not shed. In "My Lord's Man" two people realize that when they cannot find something admirable in each other they can triangulate on another's opinion. The tale is a remix of a folk song but Lanagan never allows the tap root to rise above the surface.. "Red Nose Day" and "Yowlinin's" intensify childhood trauma--Lanagan offers no easy catharsis, while my favourite, "Wooden Bride" explores the idea that what others see does matter.
For more, see the interview with Margo Lanagan at the SF Site.
I'm off to order Lanagan's previous collection, White Time