Friday, January 23, 2009

Fiction Review

Updates on the novel-a-week new years resolution

Because I should have asked before! -- as Mella pointed out -- I want to hear any and everyone's recommendations for short stories. Either collections by one author or a single short story that you liked.

I recently found a short story called "Cake" by Patrick Tobin collected in The Best American Non-Required Reading 2008 that I was absolutely in love with. "Cake" originally appeared in The Kenyon Review, and it's just got such a great pace to it that you don't realize how long it is until it's over. Actually, I didn't realize how long it was until I went to make a copy for my fiction workshop presentation -- until I had the copier counting pages for me I thought it was five, maybe six pages. Turns out it's closer to ten. That sort of trick is fabulous.

The novel I completed this week was Deerskin, by Robin McKinney. It was chosen by my folklore and fairy tale professor not myself. I remember seeing it on bookshelves marketed currently as adult fantasy although it was published about fifteen years ago.

McKinney says she's based her novel off of the fairy tale "Donkey Skin" as told by [[that french dude]] although I've read similar versions collected by the Grimms. And, once upon a time, I had a children's picture book called Princess Furball which was much the same tale. Except in this novel she doesn't take the Princess Furball approach and instead deals with the mental/phsyical/sexual abuse of the princess that's in the fairy tale -- some literally present and some implied.

While I do enjoy fantasy writing, this isn't a novel I would have chosen for myself. The fairy tale aspect of heavy narration is present. I'm fine with that for a 1000 word tale but a 300 page novel starts to drag when the same technique is used. Then again, when the main character is living alone in the woods for a third of the novel there's not much to be done for it. If you are a fan of dogs or nature and greatly enjoy their roles in fiction then go for it. Other than that, I don't think I'd recommend this novel to anyone else.

Highly Recommended