Sunday, March 08, 2009

Drowned Life

Jeffrey Ford writes what I suppose you should call modern fantasy. His stories are set in the modern era and often involve peculiarities that you might describe as magic, supernatural, or just odd. These peculiarities are usually approached in a mundane sort of way suggesting the protagonists find nothing unusual about them. In this way he reminds me of Tim Powers, Ray Bradbury and James Blaylock.

His recent collection The Drowned Life has many of these stories where the real and unreal seamlessly intersect. The title story is an allegory where those burdened by financial debt eventually find themselves underwater and many come to love it. My favorite story is a peculiar coming of age tale involving berries that allow one to communicate with the dead. Such things rarely turn out perfectly.

The stories vary quite a bit in theme and approach. So much so that I often had to put the book down as the next story was such a shift from the earlier one. I like Ford a lot and will be reading more. If short stories aren't your thing, you might try one of his novels. I rather liked the oddly titled The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque.

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