Saturday, October 11, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Seeking Boarder..., by Rahul Kanakia

This short story by Rahul Kanakia is another from Clarkesworld Magazine, and you can read it for free here. The full title of this short story is "Seeking boarder for rm w/ attached bathroom, must be willing to live with ghosts ($500 / Berkeley)," and that title tells you pretty much everything I can say about the plot without telling you the whole thing. The story is told in the form of several listings for a boarder, and the poster may or may not be a reliable narrator. That's for the reader to decide. :)

I love stories with unreliable narrators, where I spend half of my time reading it trying to figure out if I'm the narrator is telling the truth, lying, or just delusional. I always think about "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a short story I read in college that is, in my opinion, one of the best examples of an unreliable narrator.

"Seeking Boarder..." is extremely well-written. The voice of the narrator was consistent and believable, and the story had a strange, uneasy mood that stayed with me for a while after reading. The story is more a study of the narrator's character than it is a plot-driven tale.

I would recommend this short story to people who enjoy unreliable narrators, stories told in non-standard formats, character-driven stories, and modern supernatural tales. It's extremely short, only 3762 words long, so I would also recommend it to someone who wants to spend no more than ten minutes reading something thought-provoking.

Rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Book Review: A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness

To be honest, I'm not sure how to classify this book. There are monsters, but it's not really horror. There is magic and dreaming, but it's not really fantasy. It's in that strange place between children's and YA fiction, but it is also mature enough for adult readers to get something out of reading it. I do know that I loved it unreservedly and will definitely read it again.

Conor's mother is receiving treatment for cancer, he's being bullied at school, and he feels like he's been betrayed by his best friend. Patrick Ness writes a beautiful, poignant, heartbreaking, honest story about how Conor confronts his own personal monsters, aided by the help of the monster that was the yew tree growing in the church yard across the street.

I can't think of anyone I wouldn't recommend this book to. I let it sit on my shelf for almost a year before reading it, and I regret that immensely. Read this book immediately. You'll be glad you did.

Rating: 5 stars