Narrative frames and perceptive reviewers
The creator of the online fiction review site A Story a Day Keeps Boredom Away recently reviewed all of the stories in the new Dark Faith anthology.
He had this to say about my story “Chimeras & Grotesqueries”:
I love the type of story that starts with a preface declaring that what follows was found in a drawer someplace by the “author,” and said author hopes his own introduction does not skew the reader’s response to what follows. Honestly, without that introduction, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed this story anywhere near as much. I have no idea if Cardin has used the fictional author Philip Lasine in other works. The un-named preface-writer discusses his devotion / faith in Lasine’s work, and then we get a previously undiscovered Lasine work which deals with the topic of belief in its own way. Without the preface, the story by Lasine would have felt a little too crafty or arty; with the preface, it feels like a commentary on the type of crafty-arty writing that brings some literature and philosophy majors to the edges of bliss.
That’s quite a perceptive review. I, too, am a great fan of frame narratives when I’m reading fiction, including the “found story” subtype that I used in the tale at hand. Frame narratives open up marvelous opportunities for deepening a story’s theme in ways that are virtually subliminal, since the burden of recognizing and working out the connections between the core story and the surrounding narrative frame(s), and of interpreting the nature of the latter’s commentary on the former (and vice versa), falls upon the reader.
Stories written like this, when they’re well-mounted, inherently complexify and enrich themselves the more the reader mulls over their meaning. So it was nice to see the reviewer picking up on this part of what I was doing.
Of course, on a more basic level it was pleasant to read that the reviewer enjoyed the story.
FYI, and to repeat what I may or may not have mentioned before, “Chimeras & Grotesqueries” is the fruition of the story excerpt I presented here on Halloween 2006. It depicts the invasion of a nameless modern-day city by a dark supernatural power, as observed by a hideously disfigured narrator who lives in an alleyway and spends his days fashioning miniature monsters out of garbage. Or actually, that’s the core narrative, which is enclosed in the frame narrative described by the reviewer above.
Also to repeat, Dark Faith, edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon and published by Apex Books, is an anthology of stories and poems about spirituality and horror. It was published just yesterday. It’s attracting favorable attention. As they say, check it out.
Here’s part of the official description:
Horror’s top authors and promising newcomers whisper tales that creep through the mists at night to rattle your soul. Step beyond salvation and damnation with thirty stories and poems that reveal the darkness beneath belief. Place your faith in that darkness; it’s always there, just beyond the light.