by Tania Hershman
I read the stories in the Interfictions
anthology before I read the
introduction. I decided that interstitial fiction was whatever it might
be, I would just read the book and see how much I enjoyed
it. Well, I did enjoy many of the nineteen stories on first read, but
when I then read Heinz Insu Fenkl's introduction and explanation of
what "interstitial writing" may be, everything became clearer, and thus
I think it is worth beginning with an explanation: "An interstitial
work provides a wider range of possibilities for the reader's
engagement and transformation," says Insu Fenkl. Why should this be so?
Because writing that is "interstitial"
(which here means "falling between") is neither one thing nor the
cannot be comfortably assigned to any one genre, as the publishing
industry so loves to do. It plays with genre conventions, so a story
about a haunted house is not just a ghost story, it is a ghost story
with a twist. A story about a woman who posts herself to her
ex-boyfriend is not simply quirky, it is interstitial in its very
nature since it takes place in the most interstitial of places: the
However, what is interstitial writing today may not be so
tomorrow: at one time, explains Insu Fenkl, the Revisionary Fairytale
such as that written by Angela Carter, was interstitial, but it became
popular and thus became a genre in its own right. Interstitiality is
the stories while keeping an eye out for this feature certainly shed
new light. Some of the stories I hadn't been able to read the first
time I took another swing at and they seemed to open up in front of me.
Should an anthology need to explain itself to the reader
though? Perhaps this one does, being a special case, one in which
stories were chosen for some quality this is by its nature undefinable.
Confused? I am not surprised.
get back to whether this is a good read, which surely is the main point
of a book review. Yes, it is. I enjoy stories that cannot be neatly
packaged and labelled, that surprise and play with content, structure
and language. And there are many of those to be found here. Leslie
What's Post Hoc
lulls the reader into thinking it is another story about a failed
relationship, but then turns surreal when the main character attempts
to post herself to her ex, and her postman doesn't behave as if this
was strange: "Joe notices the address label on her head and takes two
seconds to understand what she's up to. His nod is sympathetic,
patient. He says, 'Gotta put you in back til I'm done for the day.' "
This story is bizarre, poignant and beautifully open-ended.
Colin Greenland's Timothy is also
highly surprising and erotic. (Cat-owners be warned.) Rather than
reveal the plot, I will quote from the author's note at the end, which
accompanies each of the stories: "Walking home years ago.. I passed a
house where the front door was open. A woman stood outside calling..a
masculine name. ...I assumed it was the name of her cat....What if
someone answers the summons and it is not at all who she was
expecting?" I defy anyone to categorise this story: pet-related erotica?
Pattern, by Jon Singer, is the stunning two-and-a-half
page piece from which the quote at the top of this review is taken. I
can't even call this a story, on the surface it appears to be a
description of plates. And yet it is so much more than that. I have
never read anything quite like it.
Some stories are what I would happily call magical realist, such as Holly Phillips' moving Queen of the Butterfly Kingdom,
whose main character is waiting for news of her kidnapped boyfriend,
and some are very far from anything realist. In this latter category I
place Matthew Cheney's A
Map of the Everywhere,
which is a surreal, irreal gay love
story set in a world which bears only slight similarity to our own.
Some of the stories are so fantastical that I found them impenetrable,
some that simply didn't speak to me, but this is the case with all
conclusion, this anthology is
both intellectually stimulating and a highly entertaining read. The
stories I enjoyed did stay with me, as all good stories should, long
after I put the book down, but whether this reader was transformed by
the experience, I cannot say. Only time will tell. The Insterstitial
Arts Foundation, which published Interfictions, is collecting
submissions for Interfictions 2, and I look forward to more
interstitial fiction that challenges and confounds expectations.
Listen to podcasts of authors reading stories
from this collection on the Interstitial Arts Foundation
Hershman is the
editor of the Short Review. Her first collection, The White Road and Other Stories,
is published by Salt Modern Fiction. She herself could be considered
interstitial, being an ex-pat and a science-loving artist.
Publisher: Small Beer Press /
Awards: 2007 Tiptree Award Honor List.
Editors: Delia Sherman and Theodora Goss
Delia Sherman was born in Tokyo, Japan and brought up in New York, New
York. She earned a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies, and she taught
Freshman Composition and Fantasy as Literature. Her first novel, Through a Brazen Mirror was published as one of the Ace Fantasy Specials. Her second novel, The Porcelain Dove, won the Mythopoeic Award for Fantasy Fiction.
Goss teaches at Boston University where she is completing a PhD in
English Literature. She is the author of a short story collection, In the Forest of Forgetting.
Authors: Karen Jordan Allen, Christopher
K. Tempest Bradford, Matthew Cheney, Michael DeLuca,
Adrian Ferrero, Colin Greenland,
Holly Phillips, Rachel Pollack, Joy Remy,
Anna Tambour, Veronica Schanoes,
Mikal Trimm, Catherynne Valente, Leslie What
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