Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Short Story Wednesday" "A Bruise the Size and Shape of a Door Handle" from FEN Daisy Johnson


Every once in a while I make myself read a story that I am not comfortable with. This was one of them. Her mother dead, Salma goes to live with her father, choosing the attic room for her own. She begins to skip school to go to the cinema and see art house films. Here she meets Margot and the two begin a romance. The fourth character, the house, becomes jealous. This is a very sensual and strange story, but not so strange it lost me as often happens. The house is like a jealous male lover left behind by Salma's turn to Margot, and it eventually gets its revenge. This was one story in a collection called FEN, which Johnson published about five years ago. I will look for it. The stories all take place in East Anglia, a watery, boggy place, I believe. You could feel that in this story. 

Here is a review from NPR of the collection. 

Todd Mason

Kevin Tipple  

George Kelley

Jerry House


Jeff Meyerson said...

What a very odd sounding story. Unlike most of the ones you review, it did not make me want to seek out the collection.

I read MUSIC OF THE NIGHT, a CWA anthology edited by Martin Edwards, ostensibly about music, which left me totally cold. It's all readable but just mediocre. You read the stories and forget them immediately thereafter. Not one was memorable to me.

More memorable was John Varley's 1976 SF collection, THE PERSISTENCE OF VISION, though it is not my usual fare I'd read one story previously, the time travel tale "Air Raid."

Years ago I read the collection TALES FROM THE SPACEPORT BAR, edited by George H. Scithers and Darrell Schweitzer, a fun collection of tall tales. Now I picked up the sequel (published in 1989), ANOTHER ROUND AT THE SPACEPORT BAR. Have only read one story so far.

Also reading DEATH COMES LAST: THE EST F THE 1950s by Gil Brewer, a collection of Noir tales from Manhunt (and elsewhere, possibly). I really liked the first of his collections I read and this will probably be just as dark.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Although it was odd, the writing was very good and she was successful in bringing the Fens to life. The inside of the house was memorably like the outside somehow.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

As always, thank you for including me.

Jeff Meyerson said...

We had friends who lived in East Anglia and spent a certain amount of time there from 1978 to the '90s. I've read William Shaw's series set there too.

Todd Mason said...

As you can tell, mine this week were more than a little on the surreal side, as well. "Fen" as a word for a mud bog is a useful one, and early on was used as a jocular plural for fantastic-fiction fans, as in the H.G. Wells-inspired rhetorical question, Are we not fen? (As the long-suffering animals in THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU don't exactly ask in catechism.)

The Goldschmidt and Etchison stories I deal with are at least in the tradition that has helped birth such stories as yours this week, was the early-morning first-draft point I was getting to in my entry, which will be copy-edited! Thanks, as always, for the assembly.

Todd Mason said...

How and where did you encounter the one story, Patti?

TracyK said...

The story you reported on sounds interesting but I read the review at NPR and the collection sounded too disturbing for me.

pattinase (abbott) said...


George said...

Like Tracy, I read the NPR review and decided to pass on that collection.