Monday, September 22, 2008

Tiny Deaths: "Perfect"

When I finished reading Robert Shearman's story "Perfect" the first thing I thought was "oh, that was a sad story" and I thought those words in a sad tone.

The opening of "Perfect" does not really anticipate the ending, not in a sense where an opening telegraphs the conclusion. The story ostensibly features a mother and a father taking their eight year old daughter, Tanya, on a short day-trip. Tanya is described as being absolutely perfect. The father works far too hard to make the trip a success and make sure Tanya is happy. The mother has something on her mind and snipes at the father.

Something is going on. It's not a story about a trip, and it isn't a story about Tanya, no matter what the title and opening paragraphs suggest. It's a story about the parents and what is really going on between them. The obvious is divorce, but is that would be the simple explanation.

"Perfect" isn't about the simple explanation.

As with much of this collection, "Perfect" is a quiet story that is charming and just a little bit twisted.

I might need to stop writing anything about the stories in Tiny Deaths because the "charming and just a little bit twisted" line might come out in my description of every other story.

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