“knick knack, knick knack” by Holly Walrath (reprint, not reviewed)
Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf
Two new tales that mix fantasy with reality appear in the latest issue of this magazine of very short stories.
“Pianissimo” by Chelsea Hanna Cohen is a surreal account of people who produce music, in a physical form, from their bodies. They live in a world that has forbidden music. The multiple narrators, known throughout the story only as “we,” fail to hide evidence of their music from the authorities and are imprisoned. Released after many years, they discover a touch of hope in their bleak, tuneless existence.
The author conveys the power and importance of music effectively. The story reminds me a bit of Ray Bradbury’s famous novel Fahrenheit 451. That classic work had a vital message to convey about the damaging effect mass media have on written literature. The point of Cohen’s story is not so evident, as there is no obvious threat to music in today’s society.
“Circle, Circle, Circle, Slash” by Jason A. Zwiker begins with a young boy innocently making an unintended sexual reference. His mother performs a bizarre ritual intended to drive the Devil away from him.
The reader may interpret this story as a portrait of the mother’s psychosis. However, the boy has visions of the Devil, so it is possible to read it as fantasy. Either way, it remains unclear what the author is trying to say about religious faith and sexuality.
Victoria Silverwolf thinks it’s ironic that this issue’s only mainstream story is about looking for ghosts.