Writer: Kirsty Logan
Publishing House: Salt Publishing
Date of Publication: March 15th 2014
Rating: 5 stars
‘’The more I loved him, the heavier my heart felt, until I was walking around with my back bent and my knees cracking from the weight of it.’’
Twenty stories, twenty masterpieces by one of the finest writers of our times. Twenty gems of self-discovery, sexuality, disillusionment, loss, womanhood, youth, and love. Love above all. Love in all its wonderful, adventurous, exciting, shuttering, violent, exhausting, tragic, hopeful forms.
‘’The hearts just clipped in, and as long as you remembered to close yourself up tightly, then they could tick away for years. Decades, probably. The problems come when the hearts get old and scratched: shreds of past loves get caught in the dents, and they’re tricky to rinse out. Even a wire brush won’t do it.’’
The Rental Heart: How many times can you rent and replace a heart? How many times can you salvage it when one disappointment follows another? Who says that mechanical hearts can’t be broken?
‘’My castle is a mother, is a lover. Once upon a time, I say, and they follow my hooves inside the walls, and I close the door up tight behind them.’’
Underskirts: Kirsty Logan creates the most memorable version of the legend of Countess Bathory I’ve ever read. A dark, haunting, sensual story of womanhood and obsession.
‘’Lauren sees Saint Felicity cradling the bones of her seven murdered sons, Saint Margaret of Antioch being swallowed by a dragon, Saint Mary of Oignies cutting off chunks of her own flesh. Then a gasp as a contraction hits and the world shrinks to the size of Hope’s body. The inside, even smaller than the outside. This is all there is.’’
A Skulk of Saints: A tender story of two women in love expecting a baby, a caravan and the saints that watch over us, carrying their own pain.
‘’When the dog starts barking, we know it’s beginning. Or rather, ending.’’
The Last 3,600 Seconds: A couple spends the last seconds before the end of the world on the roof of their house. If you want a truly poetic depiction of the Last Day, Kirsty Logan has you covered.
The Broken West: A daring story of the strange quest of two brothers in the Western cities of the USA and their complex relationship. Even the most controversial themes turn into treasures in Logan’s hands.
Bibliophagy: A family man eats words, trying to converse with the moon. A brilliant, yet sad story of isolation and desperation.
Coin-Operated Boys: Paris, 19th century. Coin-operated young men are used to discourage annoying suitors. But Elodie falls in love with a mechanical boy and Claude, the aspiring beau, wants to win her hand no matter what. What do you have to sacrifice to win the affection of your heart’s desire? Exquisite story with an absolutely perfect closure.
Girl #18: A young girl has died and her brother is trying to leave the island that is an ever-burning beacon of the tragic loss. But it is not easy to leave an island or a memory…
Una and Coll Are Not Friends: A girl with antlers and a boy with a tiger’s tail. What can you do when your heart has a mind of its own? A sweet story of teenage, obnoxious love of the finest kind, set in mystical Skye.
‘’The graces are restless today. They pweet and muss, shuddering their wings so that the feathers stick out at defensive angles. I feel that restlessness too. When the sea us fractious like this – when it chutters and schwalks against the moorings, when it won’t talk but only mumbles – it’s difficult to think.’’
The Gracekeeper: A Gravekeeper is trying to prepare for the Resting of her mother. A moving tale of the sea and the pain of losing your mother.
Sleeping Beauty: A terrifying retelling of the Sleeping Beauty tale, a story of abuse and the dangers girls have to deal with on a daily basis.
Witch: A sensual story with the legendary Baba Yaga as the symbol of independence and sexuality.
‘’That’s right, my delicacy. And what must you care about?
‘’Nothing. Only myself.’’
‘’When the time comes, you’ll remember that, won’t you? For the seas are no longer ice, but the wolves are no less hungry.’’
All the Better to Eat You With: I adored this one. So short and so cryptic, so poignant and direct.
The Man From the Circus: A young woman, fed up with living in a place where cattle competitions are actually a thing, decides to follow the Man from the Circus and live the adventure. Beautiful and tender, possibly my favourite story in this outstanding collection.
Feeding: A couple lives in a new house, in an isolated place, trying to recover from the loss of their child. The woman tends to the garden but nothing grows while she and her husband are losing track of reality and of each other. A haunting story permeating an acute sense of loneliness.
‘’Someone will always be used but it won’t be me.’’
Momma Grows a Diamond: A young girl comes of age in her mother’s brother. A story of being yourself, set in New Orleans.
‘’She spat out the bulbs – one, two; nineteen, twenty – in a runway from trees to shore. She spread herself out on the sand. A perfect starfish, a fallen body. An X, so he could find his way back.’’
The Light Eater: I cried like a child reading this tale. A young woman eats lights to light up the way for her lost beloved. If this story isn’t the definition of a masterpiece in exactly six paragraphs, I don’t know what is.
Matryoshka: A princess has fallen in love with her maid. But a fateful night and a ball will change everything. A bitter story of unattainable love.
Origami: A woman develops a strange obsession with origami to overcome the loneliness caused by her husband’s suspicious absence.
‘’Perhaps she is made of ghosts and glass now, the same as the palace. She fears that if she falls, she will scatter into smoke.’’
Tiger Palace: A mystical fairytale of an empress living in an ivory palace, surrounded by a terrifying forest. But the walls tell their own stories and the palace needs feeding. When a traveller arrives, it is time for another tale to be written and the tigers to arrive…
Kirsty Logan has created stories that read like a windswept Scottish shore, like a lazy afternoon at the end of summer, like the rock and the lowering sky. Like the anticipation of falling in love. Like the despair of losing the one thing your heart desires…
‘’If I cannot fight the tigers, then I cannot win. The story cannot end.’’