Friday, July 3, 2020

Two Truths and a Lie, by Sarah Pinsker


(Horror) Stella’s helping an old high-school friend clean out his dead brother’s house, but the brother was a hoarder, and the task is horrible in several ways. (11,890 words; Time: 39m)

"," by (edited by Ellen Datlow), published on by .

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

Review: 2020.327 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Stella’s visit home starts off simply enough with cleaning Denny’s house, but the discovery of The Uncle Bob Show introduces an element of horror—literally, in the sense that “Uncle Bob” told horror stories on the air. It gradually starts to look as though Uncle Bob’s stories actually affected the real lives of the children on his show.

Stella is stunned to learn she was on the show, since she doesn’t remember it. But her curse is that she makes up who she is and doesn’t remember the real Stella. It’s one of the worst parts of Stella—how fake she is—and we see various characters in the story turn cold to her once they realize she’s lied to them. The visit to Uncle Bob’s house seems to push her over the edge, to where she can’t even remember where she lives and if she has a job.

There’s an extra, gruesome, element in that Uncle Bob kept talking about the boy who was buried in the hill and then dug up still alive. That seems to have been Uncle Bob himself, in some strange way, and Stella ends the story sinking into his grave.

The timeline is coherent: Stella turned 7 just before in October 1982, so she was born in 1975. That means she was 14 for Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989. Her mom says she was on the show 35 years ago, so the story must be taking place in 2017, when Stella is about 42.

Con: Over half the story is a fairly dull description of cleaning the trash out of someone else’s house. Stella’s inner monologue makes her seem like the sort of person you wouldn’t want to know—no surprise none of her “friends” from high school had tried to get in touch with her.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. I agree with the rating and the review.

    It is horror. It is worth reading.

    My problem with this story is that the ending did not seem to go with the main story, like it is mis-matched.

    Glad I read your review - it explained something I'd missed.