Today’s post includes Nnedi Okorafor, Rebecca Ore, and Ruth Ozeki. As mentioned in my overview post last week, more short stories. In fact, all three of today’s reviews are of short stories. If the work of any of the authors sounds interesting to you, please do check them out — and if you have enjoyed something by them that I haven’t mentioned, let me know in the comments.
“Spider the Artist” by Nnedi Okorafor
This story was initially published in the anthology Seeds of Change, and is reprinted at Lightspeed Magazine. (Read it here.) It’s a tale set in a Nigeria where robotic spiders protect the oil pipelines from people who would steal from the corporations who own it. Eme has a life much like that of others in her village — the water is killing them, her husband beats her, she has no work. She does, however, have a guitar, and a love of music. And those things give her hope in place that doesn’t hold much.
Okorafor’s writing made the town, the setting, the feelings, come alive for me. She says on her Website that Nigeria is her muse, and it definitely shows in this story.
I enjoyed this story and will probably seek out other short stories by Okorafor to read. (I’ve also got her novel, Who Fears Death, out on loan from the library, and I’m enjoying what I’ve managed to read so far around a very busy work schedule.)
Find Nnedi Okorafor at her Website, www.nnedi.com.
“Acid and Stoned Reindeer” by Rebecca Ore
This tale is what some would refer to as NSFW. Me, I’d say it’s not something I’m ready to let my son read. Not that he doesn’t know about alcohol or about various body parts — it’s more the way he understands them is slightly different at his age, and I’m in no hurry for him to grow up. For those who want to judge for yourself, you can find the story here.
Ore’s protagonist is a time traveler from the Paleolithic, visiting New York of the 1970s. The story weaves back and forth between these two times, in ways that are parallel in some fashions and divergent in others. Honestly, I was very confused by the end of the story. I’m not sure who Quince is, or how she relates to the two time periods narrated. The story itself will probably stay with me, which is the mark of a good story, and perhaps some year, I’ll decide what it means to me.
It’s strong writing, not linear at all, and might make more sense to me if I had ever done acid or been stoned. I don’t know. I probably won’t go out of my way to look for more of Ore’s writing, but if I run across it, I know it will be memorable.
You can read more about Rebecca Ore at www.rebeccaore.com; I believe it is a fan site and has not been updated since 2008 or so, but for history, it’s a good place to start.
“The Death of the Last White Male” by Ruth Ozeki
Okay, I’m cheating with this one. Although Ozeki’s book My Year of Meats includes a ghost, the short story I’m including here has no speculative elements at all. I don’t care. It’s a beautiful story. Read it here.
Grace and Bob’s last white rooster has died, killed by a hawk. Grace finds this to be a worrisome omen as she prepares for the new year, doing everything she can to try to ensure luck in the coming months. The story is about the past, the future, worries, fears, changes, and what we can’t control. I recommend it. The first line hook is perfect.
Poignant as the short story was, I don’t know that I want to read something novel-length by Ozeki. Sometimes short works best. I might look for one of her books next year (after my current reading series is complete), but not in the immediate future.
Ruth Ozeki’s Web presence is at www.ruthozeki.com.