Thursday, April 03, 2008

Review: All in the Seasoning

Edited by Katherine V. Forrest
All in the Seasoning

Published by Bywater Books

Reviewed by Kay Sexton


Theme anthologies can be very samey, the same subjects covered by similar authors who use similar treatments, and this anthology does fall a little into that trap – there are many stories of lesbians attending Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations and suffering some kind of family shame or rejection: Zonna’s X-mas (which has a second title in brackets [Ex-Mess] in case we didn’t get the joke) and Cynthia Price’s A Hot Christmas Lunch and Valerie Watersun’s JaneBishop’s Eyes are all ‘my relationship right or wrong’ stories and feel a little bit like three spoonfuls from the same porridge bowl. That said, the outstanding stories here are simply superb: Sightseers in Death Valley, by Jane Rule, is a tightly observed tale with a shocking denouement but the detachment of the narrator from the scene allows the reader to see how many cultures: sexual and religious, are disenfranchised from America’s ‘blockbuster’ public holidays; and the two Lee Lynch stories are, as ever, stories of warm, wise, knowing, women who build their own celebrations and have the scope to create new forms of holiday.
Forrest’s own story, The Gift, is a somewhat chilling SF offering, which deals with ‘difference’ in a rather surprising way – brain-damaged children are cured’ by the arrival of aliens whose spiritual being enters them – which left this reader wondering how we were supposed to see the lesbian parents; as healers of a broken child or as no better than the heterosexual society that would, a few years ago, have but them out there to be ‘cured’ by hosting an alien too?
Kay Sexton is a fiction writer, editor and freelance journalist: she blogs about writing fiction here and has a regular column here.

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