The Pier Falls
1 journaler for this copy...
Later: I really enjoyed this collection, though nearly all the stories are quite dark, even bleak - starting with the title story, which describes the collapse of an entertainment pier complete with a growing number of casualties, not all of whom are found. It unfolds quietly, gaining menace and horror as it goes - yet it remains distant, as if narrated by the elements themselves. I really liked this one.
Other favorites here include:
"The Island," a very bleak interpretation of the Greek myth of Ariadne, who helped Theseus escape the minotaur but abandoned her on a deserted island. The story is from her viewpoint on the island, at first baffled, then heartbroken, then... something else. Harsh and atmospheric.
"The Woodpecker and the Wolf" is a claustrophobic account of a handful of spacefarers who've been stranded on (what seems to be, though unnamed) Mars after their landing went wrong. They should be able to survive until the next ship arrives - if all goes well - but (surprise!) it... doesn't. Kind of like a darkside version of The Martian, with several twists. Don't want to say more as that would spoil it, but oh, man!
"Breathe" deals with a woman who leaves Boston for her old family home in the UK after losing the woman she loved. She finds her mother living in squalor - age, illness, and perhaps a hoarding tendency? - and opts to clean the house, get her mother into a bath, and generally take charge, but in all this she ignores her mother's increasingly desperate rejections. There are lots of difficult scenes in this one, from the issues on duties to family vs. respect for individual preferences to ways in which we react to the loss of a lifetime's worth of hopes... Yeah, not exactly an upper, this one, but often thought-provoking.
"The Boys Who Left Home to Learn Fear" seems inspired by the fairy tale, but here the "boys" in question are adventurous youths planning a trip deep into the jungle in hopes of learning the fate of a long-missing explorer. Things... do not go well. As I'm fond of dangerous travel/adventure exploits, this fictionalized-but-accurate tale appealed to me.
The last tale in the book, "The Weir," is - oddly enough - perhaps the most upbeat of the collection, though it opens with a man who rescues a woman from drowning while on a hike. Interesting spin on how one looks at one's own life, how one decision can change things, how very different people may connect...
So - again, I really enjoyed this collection, but I have to say it's pretty darned bleak. I recommend only reading one story at a time, and finding something more cheerful in between!
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