After a lull of a few weeks in which I couldn’t get my hands on the weekly reading of LibraryThing’s The Weird Tradition’s Deep Ones’ discussion group, my weekly weird fiction review is back.
Unfortunately, it’s back with this.
Review: “Lull”, Kelly Link, 2002.
Normally, I would do a detailed plot synopsis to order my thoughts for the Deep Ones discussion. However, I am not going to do that for this one. It’s too long, and I didn’t like the story. To Link’s credit, nearly every sentence is important in this story, so I synoptic compression wouldn’t save much space.
The only other Link story I’ve read is “The Specialist Hat”, I said of that story in my notes that it opened promisingly but “degenerated into so-what obscurity.” That is mostly true for this long story.
It also has at least three (maybe four) stories: the main one, a nested one “story chat” woman Starlight tells over the phone, and a story nested in that.
Also to Link’s credit, there is plenty of weirdness here: cassette tapes playing palindromic songs backwards and forwards (perhaps recapitulating the story’s plot of life being lived forwards and backwards in this work’s stories), possible alien contact, cloning, a house built by a sorcerer, time travel, and a green “beer” with strange effects. The Devil also shows up in Starlight’s story.
The story seemed to – possibly – be how our lives doesn’t make much sense or have much consolation when lived forward or backward. The story has elements of loss with a married couple devastated (possibly) by the disappearance of the wife’s brother. There’s the midlife disappointments of a group of men, and estrangement from wives and childrens.
But, to my mind, Link’s tale doesn’t have a clear point or effect beyond bafflement by the increasingly complex narrative structure. There is a hint that perhaps time travel may exist and that’s why we have differing accounts of that brother’s fate.
Other than that, don’t know.
And don’t care.
I fully approve your Don’t Know, Don’t Care attitude. More books need that treatment, as do their authors so they stop putting out appalling trash…
(not claiming this was appalling trash, as I haven’t read it)
First time seeing such a brief description of a story from you.
I don’t know if people like the long descriptions or not. I mostly do them for weird fiction and authors I highlight. They’re tedious to do.
As to this story, well, as I said a plot synopsis wouldn’t be much shorter than the story. And I wasn’t going to subject myself to a long review for a story I really didn’t care for.
However, there’s the link to the story if you want to check it out yourself.
I enjoy your lengthy, detailed analysis of stories. I know it requires plenty of work. I also know that like you, I just don’t connect with some stories. Whether it is the writer’s fault or my own fault, I just decide to move on to work that does move me.
Also, the occasional, honest negative review lets people know I don’t like everything I read.
I debate about whether I should write negative reviews for my blog. There is so much Good Stuff to recommend…do I want to post a negative review when I could be promoting Something Exceptional? So about once a month or so I write about some book or music CD or movie that my audience may find disappointing. A prime candidate for a negative review is the new movie based on Don DeLillo’s WHITE NOISE.
Since I approach nearly every book expecting to be pleased (even the ones I have review copies for), I don’t have any compunction about talking about the ones that displeased me.