Author: Peter S. Beagle
In: Naked City (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fae, Mental health, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 20th September 2019
Format: Short story
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
5th sentence, 74th page: The months passed, and the weather turned relatively mild and notably dry.
Richardson just wants tenure, or, at the very least, a stable job. But his discovery of the Troll Underbridge might just change everything…
As someone who is halfway through her PhD and just entering the world of academics… I can completely understand Richardsons’ incredible need to just… crack. Right down the centre. With absolutely no finesse. Alright, I don’t actually want to crack, and I definitely wouldn’t do what he did… but we’ve all had our moments of instability, and I found Beagle’s take on this in this short story incredibly entertaining and intriguing.
We’re all a little scared of the things that go bump in the night. The creatures which hide under the bed in the dark. The ghouls which hide under our bridges and in the dark, hideaway places. Which makes the troll under the bridge a perfect feature for an urban fantasy short story. After all, they’re a fixture in fairy tales and fit that idea of the things that scare us – although, they don’t seem to show up as commonly in the stories… probably because they’re just not quite sexy…
For me, this short story highlighted the question “how far will you go?” For Richardson, I think the answer was kind of too far. But it still begs the question – how far would I go to achieve my goals? To get a steady job… I think that there may be a little of Richardsons’ darkness in all of us when we truly want something…