Review by Tahlia Newland
Goldfish Tears is a collection of beautifully written, highly imaginative and often bizarre ideas. However, many of the stories don’t go much further than that. This book is full of fabulous beginnings, promising developments but often, at least for me, unsatisfying endings. I felt that it was more like an author’s notebook of ideas, than stories as such. That doesn’t devalue its worth, just puts it in a different category.
However, not everyone demands strong endings and clear stories in their short stories. Edgar Alan Poe’s stories often don’t have either. Their beauty is in their characterisation and the situation the characters find themselves in. These are the same.
The power of magical realism is that it illuminates reality rather than replacing it as fantasy does. It’s the difference between a metaphor or analogy extended until it becomes fantastic and a story about fantasy characters and settings. It’s easy to take away that power by stepping over the boundary and the author dances on the edge a little.
The first story is, however, an excellent example of the use of an extended metaphor. It’s about a girl in a living room that is filling up with water. Interspersed with her experience in the room are her memories of a love lost, so the water is a metaphor for tears and emotion. This fabulous story is one of the few offerings in this book that is well structured and has an end. ‘Shadow Play’ is another well structured story about a man’s wayward shadow, and ‘Impatience’ is also well done. The ending was good because it answered the question set up in the readers mind in the beginning ie why was the man at the doctors?
I found some of the stories a little disturbing, but I’m sensitive to such things; others will love the stories that border on the grotesque. One is about a character with an extreme prejudice about an ugly person, and in another a man is treated appallingly because he wore odd socks.
Curtis Ackie has a talent for wonderful imagery and spinning words into evocative phrases. I would love to see the intriguing ideas presented here developed further, especially ‘The Colour of Nothing’ (but where do you go with that one?). If you are happy with great ideas, delicious words and images without requiring much in the way of story, then you’ll like this.
I recommend this book for the Awesome Indies.
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