“Throwing Stones” by Mishell BakerNovember 21, 2010 at 12:37 am | Posted in Short Stories | 1 Comment
Tags: Mishell Baker
The final short story club story is “Throwing Stones” by Mishell Baker, published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. As usual, I found a lot of things to dislike about this week’s story. This is a story about a society with inverted gender roles, but the story feels like it was written about a woman in a male dominated society, then had all gender references inverted in revision. Certainly it doesn’t read any differently than its opposite, except perhaps to readers so new to the genre that they haven’t encountered a story challenging gender roles before. The story finally approaches interesting territory as the narrator is given a transient female body via magic, but the author seems like she’s in a hurry to reach the ending by this point and nothing much is done with it. As for the story’s plot, very little actually happens, and the story ends with the narrator doing exactly what he intended at the beginning, just a little faster than expected. I guess there’s nothing wrong with mood pieces and character sketches (this story could be called either or both) but I prefer stories with more things happening.
But…but…all that said, I found myself won over to large degree upon finishing the story. Nothing about the writing jumped out at me as really superlative, but as a whole I was impressed with the execution: the slimy, amphibian true form of the goblin, the narrator’s hatred for his own body, the way the goblin’s chaos infects and destroys the narrator’s life in a way that he observes but doesn’t see as important, and then the implication that the goblin is here acting as an agent of Ru, the very goddess in whose name the matriarchs suppress the men in their society. These elements weren’t enough to turn this story into one more to my particular tastes, but they did make it unexpectedly enjoyable to read.