Contented Reader

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Elizabeth Hand

Small Beer Press

Whenever I read one of Elizabeth Hand’s books for the second time, I love it.   I never quite wrap my head around them the first time, somehow.  There’s just too much going on to take it all in at once.   Her work is some of the best there is, and it is one of the delights of it for me, that it unfolds itself to me over time.

I’ve read “The Maiden Flight of McAuley’s Bellerophon” before, when it was nominated for the Hugo award, so this was my second reading of it, and so I was ready to begin to love it.  I finally started to see the central image, of the end of the flight of the bizarre aircraft, in my mind, and that image linked to other things in my mind – the retro-modern appeal of the steampunk aesthetic, the hope that there’s more in the world than what we see, the lone visionary (crank?) fighting for an idea… Now that I’ve read it twice, I’m ready to start reading it.

There’s a story in this collection that I actually loved on first reading, which is a new experience for me with Elizabeth Hand.  “Winter’s Wife,” about a self-sufficient man in rural Maine who brings home an Icelandic wife who is very strange, and more than she seems,cold and fierce and protective of those she… loves?  I’m not sure yet.  Ask me again after the second reading, or the third.  But in the meantime, this story made me want to move to Maine, or possibly to Iceland.

Now that I’ve read this, I’ll let it rest on the shelf for a while.  Then I’ll go back to it, and read it again, because I trust Elizabeth Hand, and I know that there are stories in here that didn’t resonate for me today, that will open for me another time, and I know that there are stories that did resonate for me today, that have more in them than I realize.  It’s that kind of book.


Written by Contented Reader

November 26, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Reviews


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