This is the part of my 100 Short Stories in 2014 challenge.
I have been really busy and tired all week as it has been my first week of teaching at my new job, so I have not had short story reading high on my to-do list. Next week should be less busy so I should be able to read more during the week, I hope.
Let me start by saying that I am probably outside the target audience as I do not have or have had any loved ones losing them self to age. That is to say I did see something like this happen with my grandparents but I was not quite old enough to feel the horror of it. I do have to admit that losing my mind to age is one of my fears. The idea of forgetting who you was, what you knew and who those people around you are is horrifying. Ok perhaps I am in the target audience after all. Even with that being the case, the story didn’t really speak to me.
It did however have some really nice imagery, the hippocampi (seahorses) swimming in the playing, eating children was quite striking. And the emotion of the POV character felt very real, her frustration, her powerlessness to help her husband and her anger at her children who were willing to give up on their father; all felt very real and very understandable.
I think the thing that made it into one of those stories that just isn’t really my kind of story is the fact that the genre-element is very subtle – perhaps it is not even there. Perhaps her husband mind has not been taken over by hippocampi, perhaps he just lost his mind to Alzheimer’s – who knows. I generally don’t find that kind of ambivalence in my stories very interesting. I don’t read mainstream fiction as a general rule. If it is set in a vanilla version of our world I am just not interested.
The story was well written, with very real emotions and a powerful subject matter. However, I just wasn’t very interesting. I find that I am less interested in hearing stories about powerful subjects directly than the stories that talk about it indirectly. I find it easier to think about these kinds of subject with the distance that a story not set in our world lens. I can see the subject matter instead of the details of the story. So it is not that there is anything wrong with this story, it just wasn’t for me.
I don’t know which genre to put this under because the genre element is so subtle. Where do you put a story about a man whose mind is lost to seahorses a world away?
Published: Apex Magazine, 2013
Length: 2901 words, short story
Author: Female, US resident, white.
Protagonist: Female, elderly, wife, mother