Monday, December 21, 2009
The Drowned Life - Jeffrey Ford
buy - author site
The Deal: At this point in time, due to an RSI, I can only type for 10 minutes at a time. What you see below is what is hammered out before the timer goes off- and nothing more.
I didn't realise this was a short story collection when I picked it up, probably mixed it up with The Shadow Year at 6:17am with the lights off and running out the door for the train. I wasn't in a mood for short stories, but when you're forced to not type for 10 minutes every 10 minutes at work, and literally have nothing else to do, you devour the book in front of you regardless.
None of these short stories felt like short stories. They had a weight about them, although that isn't a right word. Perhaps, a deeper sense of...anticipation? Expectation? You know, when you start into a story, you can gauge how long it will be, not simply from the number of pages to go, but the pacing, how much is being set up, that sort of thing. These stories mined deep into the future - I was anticipating a long stint with them, longer than short stories warrant. I don't know that I read them any slower than I ever read, or any faster for that matter. I just know they ended at the right time, and every time I emerged from one, I felt I'd been gone much longer than I had.
Ford writes spins his stories - and spin is the right word - with delicacy. There is a whisp-like ephemeral feel to his sentences, that even when strung together into whole paragraphs remain light and fragile things. Violence and horror, despair and grief, all these things remain terrible and brutal, and, through Ford's writing, beautiful.
I adored 'The Night Whiskey' and 'The Dreaming Wind', but the my favourite far and away was 'The Scribble Mind'. I'm noticing a predilection in my tastes for stories that reveal your ignorance of the existence of a mystery, without ever revealing the nature of the mystery itself.
I bought up big on Ford's books at WFC. I anticipate much gluttony to come.
Verdict: An exquisite writer, and master of the short form. A collection with no repetition in it.