Monday, October 04, 2010

Aaron's Story Recommendation of the Week :: You Dream by Ekaterina Sedia

Dark Faith cover"We can get over the wrongs we do, but we cannot forgive ourselves for the wrongs done to us, for our own helplessness."

My story recommendation of the week is for "You Dream" by Ekaterina Sedia, from the Apex Publications anthology Dark Faith, edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon.

Dark Faith is an anthology of horror fiction involving religion, although in "You Dream" both the horror and religious elements are rather understated. It includes contributions from such excellent authors as Catherynne M. Valente, Gary A. Braunbeck, Brian Keene, Mary Robinette Kowal, Jay Lake, Nick Mamatas, Jennifer Pelland, Tom Piccirilli, Lucy A. Snyder, and Lavie Tidhar. (There is also a limited edition companion chapbook, Dark Faith: Last Rites, with stories by Sara Genge and others.)

Written in second-person, for reasons that do not become apparent until late in the story, "You Dream" follows a Russian woman, perhaps middle-aged now, who was abused in her youth and learned to detach her mind from her body:
You sit up in your bed and want a smoke, and whisper to yourself, It was never sex. Never. It was a defensive reflex, the same as a lizard that aborts its tail and escapes while some predator dumbly noses around the mysteriously wriggling appendage. You'd learned to do it with your entire body, and only the spirit escaped, not watching from the distance, running instead for the hills and the razor slash of the distant horizon.
Our protagonist is haunted by the dream of a young boy from her childhood about whom she remembers little except that he was kind to her. Her fixation with and confusion about this boy tells us a great deal about her, and about all of us.

Ekaterine Sedia's first novel According to Crow flew under the radar, but her next two, The Secret History of Moscow and The Alchemy of Stone, have been very well received. Her latest novel, The House of Discarded Dreams, is due out from Prime Books in November. Sedia was raised in Moscow, but you would never know it from her wonderfully elegant writing style, of which "You Dream" is a terrific example.

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