Friday, September 05, 2008

Portable Chilhoods: the shorter stories

While I would love to have individual posts on each and every story in Portable Childhoods there are some which are just a bit too short to give the attention of a full post on. So, here's a little roundup of stories which are not going to get the full length treatment.

"The Feed Bag": Actually...I'm not going to talk about this one at all. I want to acknowledge its presence, but as a general rule I don't read poetry and "The Feed Bag" is the lone poem in the collection. I'm sure it's good, but I don't have the tools to appreciate it and certainly not to talk about it.

"Mobius, Stripped of a Muse": Clever, huh? "Mobius Strip". Besides that little bit of snark, I rather liked this story. It is a previously unpublished story and it is a story that that begins as any other story until the writer of the story within a story steps back and can't figure out what next, except that stepping back is another writer stepping back. And so on and so forth until the Mobius Strip loops back on itself until it is back at the beginning of the story, except not really. It's one of those stories that is an interesting and fun exercise, and I'm glad it is in here, but at the same time "Mobius, Stripped of a Muse" is not one of the standout stories of the collection. It's tasty ice cream, but not the meat.

"Be Prepared": A short page and a half story about a chef on a galactic cruise line that gets taken over by pirates and as the alien pirates begin to devour the humans, he thinks about how the humans should be prepared in a culinary sort of way. The title, you see, it's a play on words. Not much you can really say about a page and a half of story, but it's fine for what it is. Klages has far better in this collection.

"Travel Agency": Two and a half pages. Another shortie. It's about, I hope, the power of books and reading to transport kids (of all ages) to another world. Literally, in this case, I think. In her afterword to this collection Klages writes "Many of my stories appear to have happy endings". I think that "Travel Agency" is a story which can be read a couple of different ways. One happy, another horrifying.

"Ringing Up Baby": A story with a borderline obnoxious character set. A mother is too busy for her own child so she has the nanny order up a second child as a playmate and sibling for her current child. I guess things work differently in the future. Anyway, the nanny lets the child choose the attributes of the new sibling. This story hit my "I Don't Care" button very early, but fortunately it isn't much longer than my tolerance.

That's it for this batch. There are five stories left, of which I've read three (and loved one). These will / should all get full posts. Then, the wrap-up / overview of Portable Childhoods.

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