Monday, March 21, 2016

The Name of the Forest, by Margaret Killjoy

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(Horror) Jimmy, a young tramp hitchhiking through the Midwest, gets a ride with Suzie, a pottery teacher who gives him an uneasy feeling. (4,999 words; Time: 16m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"," by (edited by Niall Harrison), appeared in issue 03/21/16, published on .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: From the moment he says, "Sometimes people do pick me up, even out there on a back highway in Illinois, even when dark is settling in, even when the person is a woman driving alone," we know that the plot is going to be "how is this woman going to try to kill Jimmy, and is he going to make it?"

There's nice foreshadowing that Jimmy hates ticks. This makes it much more effective when the tick eruption starts. It's also well-established that Suzie is tired of living while Jimmy has nothing to live for.

The climactic escape from the swarm is suitably dramatic.

It's cute that Jimmy's speech about why life is worth living ends with "I don't know how to fucking drive a fucking stick shift." He may have no reason to live, and he certainly can't articulate why he wants to stay alive, but he knows for sure that he does. Sometimes that's enough.

Con: It's not clear why Suzie changes her mind. Jimmy's speech wasn't particularly inspiring. Worse, the author doesn't make us believe that she really did change her mind, and that sucks a lot of the juice out of the story.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. Jimmy's narrative voice is pretty entertaining. But I think I was more affected by nameless neighboring camper's fate than either Jimmy or Suzie.