Friday, May 11, 2007

Story Recommendation: Karen Joy Fowler, “Always”

Last night I read Karen Joy Fowler’s “Always,” which can be found in the April/May issue of Asimov’s SF. I knew last night, immediately after reading it, that the built-in ambiguity of whether or not the story has a speculative (i.e., fantasy or science fiction) element would likely make it controversial in the same way “What I Didn’t See” was controversial. I also knew that beneath the apparently simple surface of a narrative written by an old woman who hadn’t finished high school (but since the woman attended high school in the 1930s, this of course means something different than it would for someone attending high school today) lay a sophisticated edifice and interesting subtext. As often happens with me in all matter exegetical, a night’s sleep brought some clarity. Karen Joy Fowler is always, of course, subtle. But I read this story as engaged in a conversation with the genre and its conventions, much as “What I Didn’t See” isand again, written from a distinctly twenty-first-century feminist perspective.

I expect to be writing about this story at some point, probably in this space. But I won’t be able to do so without introducing spoilers. It’s very shorta mere ten pages long. Go read it, my friends. And then we can talk about it here.

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