I loved this medley of tales. All of which focused on the relationship between mothers and daughters. It’s definitely something that I’ve been thinking of a lot lately as I’ve just had my own daughter, so it was an opportune moment to read this.
This short story made me reflect on the ways in which we can feel cannibalised by our mothers. That tough moment in every woman’s life when she is stepping away from being the child and the “daughter” to being their own independent person. It’s definitely difficult to not feel consumed by the strong women who have raised us.
Although there was that underlying idea of being absorbed in the mother-daughter relationship, this story also looked at the different types of relationships. And the ways in which the transition can be negotiated, some healthy, some not so healthy.
Stories featuring fame and the famous seem to e finding themselves ra on my shelves quite a bit at the moment. I’m not sure if I’m just noticing it, or they are genuinely more common in my selections right now, but it’s definitely interesting. Which brings me to this review. For all of the fame featured tales, this is the only one that deals with immigrants and fame, the ways that the disjunct between a home country is so vast and sometimes difficult to connect.
Shirley’s tale is kind of sad, and very intense. There’s a whole facet of aspects to her life that make you sad. But then there’s a slew of moments that you feel she has bought upon herself. It’s kind of tragic and definitely hurt my heart a little bit.
Ultimately though, this story is about the decision to be happy. Which, realistically, is a decision. You can’t control what life throws your way. But you can control how you view it and how you decide to feel about things.
This Alexia Arthurs short story focuses on a marriage of convenience. And not the cute ones that result in finding happily ever after. Rather, it’s what I’m sure is far more common, and marriage that is about companionship and convenience. Not one that is about passion.
I like that although this is a marriage of comfort, it’s ultimately about the children. The narrator’s voice is focused on that beautiful positive and outcome. It makes sense and left me with a bit of a smile on my face at the end of the day.
I enjoyed this different perspective into marriage. It’s not one I often come across in my reading. It also fascinates me the idea of what is it that makes someone settle for less than their ideal.
I don’t normally like stories with such an unreliable and morally-ambiguous character. Cheating is a pretty big trigger thing for me and I very rarely can stomach a character who partakes in cheating. Yet, I enjoyed this one. I didn’t necessarily like the narrator as a person, but I did enjoy the journey that the voice took me on. It was very… confused. Much as the decisions that were obviously being made were.
Although this does talk about the horrible death of a young woman, it’s this idea that the character is being haunted for her own bad decisions that I like. After all, she constantly states how guilty she feels about her actions. But it isn’t until the ghost of Jia Yi starts to haunt her when she’s doing the things for which she feels guilty that she actually stops. I kind of liked that feeling of retribution / a reminder to listen to your conscience.
This is a very… meandering story. It’s a bit hard to lock down what I liked so much about it. Particularly when it dealt with cheating. Yet, I found the meandering nature and somewhat perplexing storyline to be really enjoyable. And I would definitely be wanting to read this again.
This short story balances both loves that of the Jamaican on his home soil and the American immigrant. The constant flicking between that life and this is a good way to show how these two identities sit against one another for many people.
I’m noticing a bit of a recurring theme of infidelity in Arthurs’ writing. And I can’t say it’s one that I enjoy. But it does show a great understanding of the imperfections of humanity. Which I did enjoy… constantly giving me a conflicting viewpoint and emotional response.
I love how this story balances different aspects of life. And provides yet another insight into immigrant life.
I loved how this short story flicked back and forth in time. I definitely feel that it’s the case in any circumstance when you are visiting the past. It’s like a layer of juxtaposition – you see the past and all of its nuances, but then you also place that against the present which you are living. Definitely a unique journey to go on.
Arthurs not only flickers between the past and the present, but also between America and Jamaica, helping to drive home the immigrant experience that many go through. For me, an Aussie, both experiences and countries were thrillingly unique and unexpected. I loved how these totally different worlds sat nestled in the narrators experience and built an incredible picture.
Mermaid River is a story that I’m sure many people could connect to. I myself, who has no experience with either country nor immigration was reminded of grandparents and saying goodbye to the past. Definitely a sweet and wonderful short story that will transport you to another reality.
There is always something difficult about going home. But that can be made far worse when that original home is in another country with some far stricter rules. That sometimes all you want to be is a tourist in a world that you know intimately in another way.
Added to all of the emotional turmoil of this story is the fact that rhe narrator is having to deal with their sexuality. Whilst she is comfortable in it, she is surrounded by people who aren’t. I found this kind of heartbreaking. I mean, these people are supposed to be friends… but they’re just… dismissive in so many ways.
An emotionally difficult story that makes you think about relationships and coming home. And how it can be difficult to navigate different realities.
This story was just… tragic from beginning to end. I mean, it starts woth dead children. And honestly, there is nothing that gets better from there.
Now that I’ve read a few Alexia Arthurs stories, I’m getting used to her jumping around style. And for this story, it added to that feeling of tragedy. Not only are you talking about premature death, but there’s also the sadness and tragedies of those days before.
There is such a feeling of blame and fault throughout this tale. Not that I can pinpoint where the blame is supposed to lie. But it sits there. Incredibly uncomfortably.
It took me a little while to “click” with what was going on in this story. Mainly because the author is female, the narrator in the first story of this collection is female. But the voice of this story is male. Once the penny dropped (I mostly blame the delay on baby brain), I thoroughly enjoyed this.
I know next to nothing of Jamaica. Besides Cool Runnings, so nothing. It was fun to read a story that was set in everyday, familial life there. The simplicities of everyday life seem so simple, until you look at them from the outside. And I was intrigued.
There was such a powerful underlying pain throughout this story. It was about life and love, but there was also this feeling of being inadequate. Wondering why the good wasn’t acknowledged when the bad so often was. And how this maelstrom of emotions can combine into a complex, mash up love.
Each and every one of these short stories is thought provoking. They all make you pause and just THINK about what, exactly, you are reading. About preconceptions and misconceptions. About what it means to move through the world. They’re all brilliant.
I have literally no personal experience with racism and immigration. I’m white, I’m Australian, I was born here. But, I did love the moments of immersion into this different reality that Arthurs provides. It’s… intense. And brilliant.
Normally with short story collections, I have to keep reminding myself to go back. With this collection, I didn’t want to STOP. Each and every tale felt like a revelation. Revelations that I look forward to rereading again and again.
I loved this collection. It was brilliant and intense. With a wonderful edge of satire and wit that I probably didn’t expect. Definitely one that I’ll be going back to in the future.