Set in the Old West, this is the strange, magical tale of Sarah Canary and the ragtag band of misfits and lovers she trails in her wake
When black cloaked Sarah Canary wanders into a railway camp in the Washington territories in 1873, Chin Ah Kin is ordered by his uncle to escort ‘the ugliest woman he could imagine’ away. Far away. But Chin soon becomes the follower. In the first of many such instances, they are separated, both resurfacing some days later at an insane asylum. Chin has run afoul of the law and Sarah has been committed for observation. Their escape from the asylum in the company of another inmate sets into motion a series of adventures and misadventures that are at once hilarious, deeply moving, and downright terrifying.
Gifted novelist Fowler (Sarah Canary and The Sweetheart Season) delights in the arcane, and, as a result, these 15 clever tales are occasionally puzzling but never dull.
In the long title story, temperance activist Carry Nation is resurrected in the 1990s (“We’re talking about a very troubled, very big woman,” says one shaken barman to reporters) and becomes such a nuisance that the DEA is forced to dispatch her with voodoo. Other plots are only slightly less outrageous in conceit. In “Lieserl,” a lovesick madwoman dupes Albert Einstein into believing he has a daughter; in “The Faithful Companion at Forty,” Tonto admits to second thoughts about his biggest life choice (“But for every day, for your ordinary life, a mask is only going to make you more obvious. There’s an element of exhibitionism in it”). “The Travails” offers a peek at the one-sided correspondence of Mary Gulliver, who wants Lemuel to come home already and help out around the house. The homage to Swift makes sense, for, when Fowler doesn’t settle for amusing her readers, she makes a lively satirist. The extraterrestrials who appear in her stories (whether the inscrutably sadistic monsters in “Duplicity” or the members of a seminar studying late-1960s college behavior in “The View from Venus: A Case Study”) seem stand-ins for the author herself, who, in elegant and witty prose, cultivates the eye of a curious alien and, along the way, unfolds eccentric plots that keep the pages turning.
Black Glass (1991), Contention (1986), Shimabara (1995), The Elizabeth Complex (1996), Go Back (1998), The Travails (1998), Lieserl (1990), Letters from Home (1987), Duplicity (1989), The Faithful Companion at Forty (1987), The Brew (1995), Lily Red (1988), The Black Fairy’s Curse (1997), The View from Venus (1986), Game Night at the Fox and Goose (1989)
An extraordinary collection of short stories from the award-winning author of Sarah Canary. Including “Praxis”, the story about a theater where the real and unreal collide; “The Poplar Street Study”, Fowler’s darkly comic account of an alien invasion; and “The Gates of Ghosts”, in which a child journeys to a strange and deadly world, this anthology of 13 tales also features a new foreword by the author.
The lake was full of artificial things – The Poplar Street study – Face value – The dragon’s head – The war of the roses – Contention – Recalling Cinderella – Other planes – The gate of ghosts – The bog people -Wild boys: variations on a theme – The view from Venus – Praxis