Thursday, 6 March 2008

Review: Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan

'Red Spikes', Margo Lanagan's third collection, has the dubious honour of leaving me almost entirely cold. While I can appreciate that all the stories are well written, none of them really stand out for me as I review the table of contents for this post.

As I feel obliged to mention some of them:

'A Good Heart' stands out as being (I think) particularly well written for such a mundane storyline.

'Daughter of the Clay', a human girl and a clay girl who are born into each other's world swap places (giant simplification here). Some interesting ideas about belonging, until it dissolves in rambling clay talk.

'Forever Upward' describes a mother's desperate attempts to persuade the gods (in this case giant white floating organisms) to spare her sons from forced inscription into the Church, and her daughter's realisation that she has a connection to those Gods that her mother will never understand. It's actually not bad but it does feel like the beginning of a much longer story and in that respect is unsatisfying.

Possibly the only emotional connection I felt with the book was at the start of 'A Feather in the Breast of God' (the story I found... odd), where Lanagan dedicates this story to her departed budgies - amongst them Roy and HG! My favorite bit of the book was Lanagan's acknowlegements, which explained some of the inspiration behind her tales. To be completely fair, I read 'Red Spikes' in interstitial moments between being very busy and very tired and so perhaps it didn't get the attention it deserved. However, neither did the book demand that attention, and so I'm not sure it did deserve it after all...

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