Friday, August 29, 2008

a book, a short story, and a pile of tiny stories

First up, The Missing Girl by Norma Fox Mazer. This is the only book I've finished in the past couple weeks, and it was a while back that I actually finished it. I've been working my way through The Stand and catching up on my major backlog of scrapbooking magazines, but not getting much other reading done.

Anyway, The Missing Girl is the story of five sisters, Beauty, Mim, Stevie (born Faithful), Fancy, and Autumn. In a way I hesitate to call their family dysfunctional, but I do think it an appropriate label. The girls' parents are not alcoholics or drug addicts, they don't physical or sexually abuse the girls. But nor are they truly there for the girls. The father had an accident and badly injured his back. He has not been able to work since this accident, so money has been extremely tight. He has also pulled away from family life in many ways since the accident. And the mother, well, she seems unwilling to even try to deal with the stresses of their lives these days. So it is left to Beauty, at age 17, to take care of her sisters in many respects.

Life isn't easy for the girls, and something they don't know will soon make their lives so much worse. For there is a man, a sick, depraved man, who watches them. And eventually he kidnaps one of the girls. I won't spoil the story by telling you who he kidnaps or what happens from there. But I will say that while the kidnapping and what follows is the suspenseful part of the book, it's not what truly made this book so worthwhile. No, that was the girls themselves. They got under my skin. Each one, so unique, so human. Each one with their own strengths and weaknesses. And the way they related to one another. They felt so incredibly real, so human, that you couldn't help but get attached to them.


Now, a short story. Now, I fully admit that I have a hard time reviewing books. And I have an even harder time reviewing short stories. People like Nymeth and Stephanie and Carl make it look so easy. Whether it really is easy for them, I don't know, but they sure make it look effortless. Case in point, yesterday Nymeth reviewed a few stories, including one titled "The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change". She left me so intrigued that I had to immediately use the link she provided and go read the story myself. And now here I am, stuck trying to put into words my feelings about this story. It's the story of what happens in one particular park after the Change...the Change being an event which gave all domesticated animals the ability to speak in the languages we humans use. This story depends on all the stories within the story, and it is both this concept and the stories themselves which really fascinate. I've only recently really gained an appreciation for folklore, and this was just a treat. I'm having a hard time putting my feelings into words here, but "The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change" may well be the most original story I've ever read. Seriously. It's entertaining. It's sad. It's uniquely written. But most of all, it is thought-provoking. Extremely thought-provoking.

(I actually read another fabulous short story recently, but I can't seem to remember to ask Jean where it is going to be published. See, it was written by her son. And of course, she did tell me already, but my darn brain won't hand over the information. Hopefully, she'll read this and fill us all in, because I most definitely highly recommend it.)


And now for the tiny stories. For those of you who don't know, a tiny story is a story 100 words in length. Exactly 100 words. With no word repeated. It doesn't sound all that difficult to do, right? Wrong! It is soooo hard! Well, I guess I can only speak for myself. Maybe it comes much easier to some. But for me, well, it took hours upon hours to put together my tiny story. I would find a repeated word and have to rewrite sections. Then find another repeated word, and so on, and so on, and so on... Anyway, my effort paid off. During RIP II, Carl ran a tiny stories contest, featuring stories of the dark and creepy vein. And he posted the stories here at the beginning of RIP III. Now, I truly don't believe I deserved to win, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't totally thrilled about it! Beyond it just feeling really good, as many of you already know, Carl gives out the most amazing prize packages in all of blogland! Seriously, this guy is nothing if not generous! Thank you, Carl! And I highly recommend going over and reading everyone's stories...they are absolutely fabulous!!!


Jean said...

The story to which Debi refers has been published online at
I'm not sure how to make that a hot link here in the comment field, but you can cut and paste it into your browser. I gave Debi a hard copy of it when I met her recently. I gave her warning that she probably didn't want to share it with Annie at least not without reading it herself first. It's the sort of scary story that would have given me nightmares and could still. The son who wrote this (Don, my elder son) has an essay awaiting publication online (this is mentioned in his bio at the end of the story) and just had another story accepted by a Canadian journal, On Spec. Yeah, I'm proud of him.

DesLily said...

Congratulations again Debi !! You are right, Carl always has such great prize packages...but no one seems to enter for them as much as for the fun (work!) of just joining in the whole challenge "thing" lol

Nymeth said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed the story, Debi! It is very thought-provoking. And very original too! I really want to read more of Kij Johnson's writing now.

I will check out Jean son's story now. And congratulations again on the tiny stories contest!

Medbie said...

Wow! Congrats!!

Stephanie said...

When I read Nymeth's review, I thought to myself that I have to read that one as well!!

I did see Carl's post yesterday. Congrats, you author!! How very cool...and a great prize pack to boot!

J. Kaye Oldner said...

Glad to hear about your thoughts on "The Missing Girl". It was an amazing book for me.

Melody said...

I'll have to check out that book, Debi! Thanks for sharing with us your thoughts.

Congrats on the win, Debi!!! No matter how tiny or big the stories are, it's a great accomplishment in my opinion . :)

jpderosnay said...


and i know this might be superfluous, but i think you're a lot better at reviewing than you give yourself credit for! what i like about your reviews is that i always get an impression of how you personally experienced the book - and that is very cool!

Eva said...

Congrats!!! What an awesome prize pack: I'm super happy for you. :D

Kim L said...

What a great story! I loved reading all of the stories that people submitted, what fun! And how cool that you won-yay!

Carl V. said...

I think you do a fine job with your reviews. They aren't always easy, but I just try to share from the heart. As long as your thoughts are genuine that is really all that matters.

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