Friday, June 23, 2017

The White-Throated Transmigrant, by E. Lily Yu

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(Dark Fantasy) Hiding from her own problems, Winona volunteers at the local ornithological museum after she hits a bird with her car. (3,555 words; Time: 11m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"," by (edited by Marco Palmieri), published on by .

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

Pro: The details of taxidermy are interesting, if a little grisly. The bits of information about Winona that gradually dribble out are also interesting. She’s ethnic Chinese, no family, no friends. She had an abortion. She’s lonely, unhappy with her life, and sees no future for herself.

Students of "show don't tell" should read this and marvel at how the author conveys this without ever saying she's lonely, unhappy alienated, etc. It's a brilliant illustration of how an author can show the reader a vast amount about a character without ever having to say it outright.

In the end, when she replaces the bird she killed, we know she's glad to put our world behind her.

Con: It’s not clear what the crystals represent, and it's hard to believe she never brought one in to the museum for someone to look at. Clearly they're about something hatching, but what, and why so many?

The speculative element has little effect on the story and could easily be removed from it.

Penny goes from sympathetic to hostile without a lot happening to make that easy to believe.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. The crystals seem like a cross between egg and chrysalis. Rebirth and transformation. The number corresponds to how many days she spends at the museum.