I’ve never done acid. But I imagine that the tripped out experience is a lot like this story. Incredibly confusing, unreal and tangentially jumpy. With lots and lots of long, run on sentences.
I began my obsession with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in childhood, but kind of forgot about it until the last year – when I finally got around to reading the original story! And then my obsession began to take a bit of a turn for the… well, obsessive… so I bought this collection as soon as I found it. And opened the page within days of receiving it.
This is a bit of a jumpy short story. Which is pretty typical for a tale from Mad Hatters and March Hares if I’m being truly honest with myself. But, it felt kind of jumpier and more confusing than some of the other stories that I had read. Not to say that it was bad… but it did take me a little more to understand what I was reading than usual. I actually read through this twice… just because there was not one, but two different storylines to try and get my damn head around.
I loved the idea of a Mary Ann in the Alice world. This idea that every young girl who enters the world of Wonderland is a Mary Ann or an Alice and that there are defining moments which classify them as one or the other. It gives a great alternate point of view to the world which is a little less rushed and insane, and a little calmer and more deeply thought out.
This was my least favourite of the short stories in Mad Hatters and March Hares. Yet it followed the jumpiness of the original story far better than any other tale in this collection. Each section of this tale jumps from one perspective to another. With the same man as the central character. I think. I’m actually not 100% sure. And there were wasps. Lots of wasps.
This is my second Seanan McGuire short story (the first being The Mathematical Inevitability of Corvids) and it is just as twisted! In a less sick, going to kill someone way. But in a twisting of words and riddling kind of way. After finishing each paragraph I would take a deep breath. Just because the way the sentences stream into one another was so intensely done that I wouldn’t breathe. It almost worked like one whole sentence.
I don’t know if I’d ever willingly go on a tour through Wonderland. There just seems to be far too much that can, and will, go wrong. And this short story reinforces that idea. I definitely only ever want to read about Alice’s adventures… the real place just seems far too dangerous and bizarre.
I felt like this short story was a kind of prequel to the rivalry that seems to feature throughout many of the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland retellings. At a young age, sisters Lily-White and Ruby-Red already have an intense rivalry. And although they get along famously within this story, there are the seeds of discord in all of their interactions… and on completing this story, there was kind of an uncomfortable feeling that lingered, making you think of the future of the two queens…
One of the things that I love about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is the incredibly insane wordplay. The fact that nothing quite makes sense and you feel like you’re on an intense trip. Well, Sherman captures that feeling perfectly in her short story, My Own Invention. It probably didn’t help that I had had a few glasses of wine when I read this story…