Monday, July 31, 2017

Atkinson, Kate (Not the End of the World)

So, there I am, in Australia, having finished the 3rd Jackson Brodie book, and not able to get the 4th (and last? hard to tell). Sure, sure, I had backup books. But I wanted to read more Atkinson at that very moment. She fits with Australia, in some vague, ill-defined way, in my head. Atkinson, herself, recommends her short-story collection, which she is her favorite of what she's written. I can definitely see why.

It has a strange beginning, which you will not recognize as a framing device for the "plot" until the end, so I'm telling you here. Better to know in advance, in my opinion. It gets even stranger as the stories continue - and the entire loosely-connected set of them morphs into something with a heavy fantasy element. But. If that weirds you out, I encourage you to keep reading. Because this slim volume is not based on fantasy she's creating out of whole-cloth, it is based on tried-n-true classical mythology. There, now I've told you more than you could assume from reading a few stories. Why? Because I had to return to the start and read each beginning and end of every short story to piece together what she was crafting. I'm saving you the bother. It's worth understanding this from the get-go. Why?

Because she's a phenomenal short story writer. Knowing what inspired her gives you a ton of insight into how and why her craft works. These characters that only live on the page for a few minutes - those minutes merit your time. You may find that you want to re-read the collection simply because of how well it's written.

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