Friday Fiction: “Gargoyle”

This week’s Friday Fiction:

Isabel and I grew up in the village near Tivoli. I brought her oranges I stole from the Cardinal’s trees. She rolled her eyes at my crime but ate the fruit. I’d wanted to be a sculptor since I was a child. When I carved a rose the size of my palm to give to her, a sliver of stone flew into my right eye and carved it out. Well, I still had one eye and the feeling in two hands and heart.

“Gargoyle” by Cezarija Abartis on Burrow Press Review

My flash piece “Security” is up at First Stop Fiction! Here’s the first line: “The soldiers who came for us had their orders in the form of stamped papers out in their hands.”

Liz mailed me a wonderful surprise from New York: a stack of books, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which I’ve never read, updated with JRM on the cover. Thanks, Liz! You made my week!

I’m currently reading Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie, a directory of mini-biographies of various princesses—warriors, schemers, usurpers, and so forth. It was listed as one of the “Best Books Coming Out This Week” on NPR Book News, which is how I came by it. Unfortunately, I can’t pass on the recommendation. It’s a coffee table book, fun to flip through, but without real depth (or fine writing)—which is fine, I just wasn’t expecting history-lite. The mini-biographies are really mini. The tone goes for a casual flippancy that feels out of place and erodes my confidence in the writer as a serious researcher/historian. The language strives to be hip and funny but misses the mark. It’s disappointing to read a book that claims it’s trying to add dimension to the idea of “princess” as a fairy tale stereotype while discussing powerful characters in a trite, vapid tone. As a reader, I felt talked down to. The book did introduce me to a number of fascinating women I hadn’t come across before, even if several of them are figures of folklore or myth rather than actual history.

3 thoughts on “Friday Fiction: “Gargoyle”

  1. A friend of mine introduced me to Burrow Press Review just this week and I love the stories there! “Gargoyle” was fantastic and creepy. I’m so glad that you are recommending it.

    I read your “Security” story. It gave me the shivers and was so brillaint, I had to reread it a few times (and the ending, every time, still punched me in the gut, haha. So, so great).

    I heard about that princess book and I suspected as much. Even though the idea of exploring real princesses is an interesting one, I’m always skeptical about books that claim that they’re adding a “new dimension” to the conversation. A book that actually does this is one that doesn’t have to make grand statements. It just does (if that makes sense). The princesses in the book sound fierce and inspiring though, so jotting their names down and doing my own research on them would probably be better. At least this book opens the door for people to learn about real-life princesses, whereas they may been obsure before.

    Anyway, before I keep talking in circles, I’m going to stop, haha. Congrats on the publication of you short story. I can wait to read the forthcoming stories!

    1. I think I found Burrow through Twitter! The “who to follow” sidebar gets increasingly more relevant for me.

      Thank you so much, Kim! That’s so sweet of you to say!

      I agree—the packaging/promotion of this book was really trying to capitalize on the popularity of fairy tale things—but it stretches for that in a really shallow way. I ended up doing much the same thing, which is just investigating the people on my own because I didn’t trust what the writer put down on the page. It’s a coffee table book, and there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s just not what I expected :(

      This reminds me though, I’ve got to check in with you on what recent books you’d recommend!

  2. I’m guilty of ignoring the Twitter recs, so I should probably start paying more attention to them, haha.

    Hmmmm, I’ve been reading a lot of books for research purposes recently, so I don’t have anything new I’ve read that I can really think of. However, if you’ve never read Alethea Kontis’s “Enchanted,” yet thee to a bookstore pronto! I loved it and I have the next book in the series, “Hero,” sitting on my desk and I’m dyyyying to read it but I can’t yet. It’s literally the first book I’m itching to read after I’m done with my research / current writing project / meeting deadline.

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