On Saturday the Frisky Pagan reviewed a Hugo-nominated story called Our Talons can Crush Galaxies, by Brook Bolander. He was not kind.
I had no intention of reading it for myself to see if he was fair. First, the quotes he provides already make my skin crawl.
No, I’m not kidding.
I’m used to some grade-A solipsism and narcissism out of feminists, but rarely do I read things that, if the person writing them were in the room with me, I’d be looking for an escape exit and never, under any circumstances, be alone with them.
Some examples, you ask? Crap.
Let’s start with the opener.
This is not the story of how he killed me, thank fuck
Yeah. Everything up through “me” would be an interesting opener, but no, we have to be edgy and curse and be vulgar.
Unfortunately, what it is a story of is even less pretty.
After starting out complaining how the heroes and the villains get all the attention, the victim doesn’t even get a name, and so she won’t tell you how she got killed…
So, no. You don’t get a description of how he surprised me, where he did it, who may have fucked him up when he was a boy to lead to such horrors (no–one), or the increasingly unhinged behavior the cops had previously filed away as the mostly harmless eccentricities of a nice young man from a good family. No fighting in the woods, no blood under the fingernails, no rivers or locked trunks or calling cards in the throat. It was dark and it was bad and I called for my sisters in a language dead when the lion–brides of Babylon still padded outside the city gates. There. That’s all you get, and that’s me being generous. You’re fuckin’ welcome.
No, it’s not the story of that, and the victims are forgotten, but I’m still going to hint at how it went and you’ll be grateful that I decided to hint at it when I said I wouldn’t tell you.
So yes, as the Pagan has told us, we get to a set of bullet points as if in a power point presentation. And the very first point does indeed get contradicted later in the same story. “I meant nothing to him/he wanted to get her attention and she wouldn’t even look at him.” – but then borderlines I’ve been unfortunate enough to know wouldn’t balk at such conflicts to their own vision of their righteousness.
I was playing at being mortal this century because I love cigarettes and shawarma, and it’s easier to order shawarma if your piercing shriek doesn’t drive the delivery boy mad. Mortality is fun in small doses. It’s very authentic, very down–in–the–dirt nitty–gritty. There are lullabies and lily pads and summer rainstorms and hardly anyone ever tries to cut your head off out of some moronic heroic obligation to the gods. If you want to sit on your ass and read a book, nobody judges you. Also, shawarma.
Yeah. Petty, sadistic pleasure at the suffering of the victim. This isn’t justice. That said, note the focus. Not that the transgressor was punished, but that the transgressor suffered, cried.
Our talons can crush galaxies. Our songs give black holes nightmares. The edges of our feathers fracture moonlight into silver spiderwebs and universes into parallels. Did we take him apart? C’mon. Don’t ask stupid questions.
Yeah, playing head games with the audience again.
Anyway. Like I said way back at the start, this is not the story of how he killed me. It’s the story of how a freak tornado wrecked a single solitary home and disappeared a promising young man from a good family, leaving a mystery for the locals to scratch their heads over for the next twenty years. It’s the story of how a Jane Doe showed up in the nearby morgue with what looked like wing stubs sticking out of her back, never to be claimed or named. It’s the story of how my sisters and I acquired a 1967 Mercury Cougar we still go cruising in occasionally when we’re on the mortal side of the pike.
Except it’s not most of those things. It’s coyly dancing around the story of how she was killed, but certainly not avoiding it either. It is not the story of a freak tornado but of how they covered their actions in the story. Since she supposedly didn’t tell us how she died, it’s not the story of how a Jane Doe ended up in the morgue – the author barely hints at what happened, opens by saying she won’t tell us even, before dancing around it. And why should I care about the car? They didn’t acquire it! There’s not story of how the went about getting it, they just manifested it, like they could have manifested a 68′ Corvette or a Mercedes G-series.
You may not remember my name, seeing as how I don’t have one you could pronounce or comprehend. The important thing is always the stories—which ones get told, which ones get co–opted, which ones get left in a ditch, overlooked and neglected. This is my story, not his. It belongs to me and is mine alone.