I always wonder whether short stories are placed in a collection in a particular order for a particular reason. In the case of Rebecca Lee’s collection, I am glad “Slatland” was third. Had it come any earlier, I may not have finished the collection. By the time I’d reached the third story, however, she’d earned some latitude from me. As with many great short story writers, she’s able to craft a vivid world so remarkably quickly. And her stages are full, so it’s generally a delightful task to see where the story leads. It’s not always clear whose story it is until the end, which is a good thing. Her narrators are not always well-characterized when it comes to gender, even when gender definitely matters in the story.
In just 7 stories (is that enough for a collection? I felt a bit cheated), some motifs emerge – relationships and marriages, stories, campus life (regrettably), journeys, etc.. Most impressive, though, was Lee’s ability to convey the power of language in at least seven different ways. There are some remarkable lines. In “World Party,” a mother says of her son, “He was alone with The Alone.” But read these stories for the broad strokes.
But don’t read them for the proofreading. I’ve never encountered a publisher’s error slip before. And I caught another error.