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.