Wild Justice – Edited by Ellen Datlow

Real-Time Review Continued From Here


Leave Me Alone God Damn You – Joyce Carol Oates

“…to penetrate meaning’s surfaces, to expose secrets the way you crack a nut to expose its meaty interior. To decipher what lay within.”

The wild justice of the mid- 20th century diasporas in Europe. Its cruel markings. Can any justice be wild without becoming injustice? — This modern woman protagonist has this as background – and perhaps no wonder she finds it difficult to find her roots in Houston, Texas (where, in our own lifetimes, there was a future vision of an even larger diaspora into outer space? – my observation, not necessarily the story’s).  A story with its own ‘last balcony’ (effectively if not definitively mentioned several times in this story). One dare not even ask why she’s here – alone? Lovemaking just another force beyond understanding, beyond communication. Her discipline of linguistics, too. Difficult even to approach such a new major work (for me) by one of my favourite authors. Its place in this book is a precious gift, one that radiates from its core to all the other stories, I guess, towards where life may exist, or it may not.  We are all seeking our purpose. Close encounters, of every kind.  Mine, at least partially, was to read this story.  Where the words are like self-mutilations.  [An Aside: One of the stories here is by Joyce Carol Oates but which one?] (11 Mar 12 – another 9 hours later)

Butcher’s Logic – Roberta Lannes

Eight is awfully young to lose faith in your mother.”

Some of the implied or inferred ‘wild justice’  inherent in the Oates (gas ovens there, meat safes here) is present in this highly poignant first person singular memory (Proustian in some ways) of an eight to nine year old white girl’s life ringed by (for her) idyllic orange groves, beset by dysfunctional parents and their racism or alcoholism, clinging on to the childhood ‘boy friend’ she makes from the orange grove, seeking her own ‘self’ (cf the Oates again) often exclusively in the world of her room where she seems permanently ‘grounded’, also, with a retrospectively sad, childish instinct, even  to mete out her own ‘wild justice’ to her beloved pet called Angel…  I found this a very effective story where, if only at the low volume of vague instinct, I sensed that sweethearts’ kisses, when set in some unrequited future, are strangely lethal, too. (12 Mar 12 – 9.05 am gmt)

A Lie for a Lie – Pat Cadigan

‘Some things won’t go away and some things won’t come back.’ […] ‘If there were any justice in the world, the two would cancel each other out, or at least balance.'”

This has the wonderful onward stylistic overdrive of the Morlan and Kiernan – except the latter pair’s “Euro-Market crotch grinds” and skull-stretched crime scenes-et-al  have now, in the Cadigan, more of an abstract trading or “rumoured traffic” in souls and in symbols, with this book’s ‘lethal kiss’ now akin, I infer, to marrying a Tarot Card within the scryable, spellcheck-prone iris of the narrative protagonist’s eye. It is also in tune with the fears of aphasic self-mutilation in Oates’ mental  “communication” diasporas. But I am possibly guilty here  of Cadigan’s protagonist-broker’s own consideration that “some of the associations were too oblique even for me.” [Which may be true generally of my real-time reviewing!]   — This story has revenge and wild justice entwined in some sort of rarefied SF hyperspace of bartering souls in synergy with their souls’ bodies elsewhere: but with many a slip between cup and lip: “Like I said, what people won’t do for love or money, they’ll do for religious reasons.”  Stasis, coma, dream, chaos-as-order and vice versa, “a lie for a lie, and a truth for a truth” (in tune with my own well-seasoned, well-googled “synchronised shards of random truth and fiction”): I love Cadigan’s mind-blowing addition to this book’s developing gestalt, sixteen years after it appeared in print, and now in its new appropriately self-discovered hyperspace where it has managed to reach me at last! (12 Mar 12 – two and a half hours later)

Keeping Alice – Simon Ings

“…an ankle-length beige sheath dress…”

A lengthy laconic meditation by Charlie on keeping Alice, seeking her, not always there, often re-meeting, and their relationship with his Mum (eventually significantly cumulative in both senses of this book’s titles) – starting, at the first meeting, with the Tarot Cards from the Cadigan, the spreading ill-laid streets of Bristol, and Kim with her own huge Bristols, and the scrubby seaside dunes in a resort similar to that in the Lamsley, the even more dreary surface South East London;  the bits and pieces of people’s lives, the enthusiasms that die out but not completely then only reviving life a little, the downtimes that eventually re-perk – but, again, only a little. I found this to be a beige carpet of a story: a Robbe-Grillet rainy day of a story, or was that by Michel Butor? The shopping channel. The “uniform landscape of dykes” in more than one sense. The speedboat that wasn’t a speedboat but made land into sea, but not rescuing my own mind from drowning in its deep pile. And the Kent Oast-House somehow reminded me of the Oates. The “oatmeal carpets“; “Alice tripped up on an edge of carpet…”; “Alice, shivering in the gusts from the open door, looked around at the paint-spattered carpet…”; “Other plots are laid fallow under old cardboard and rolls of carpet; rotting they enrich the soil…”  (12 Mar 12 – another 2 hours later)




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