Strange Horizons, 11 July 2005

Note: This post was imported from an old content-management system, so please excuse any inconsistencies in formatting.

"Torn" by Daniel Kaysen

"Torn" by Daniel Kaysen tells the story of Squirrel, a man who is only identified by the pet name given to him by his deceased wife, Elizabeth.  He’s having trouble putting the past behind him when his girlfriend, Kelly, takes him to see a shaman named Bear.

His meeting with Bear sets him on a path that will either allow him to let go of the past and move on with his life, or destroy him.

Kaysen used more white space than usual to tell the story.  I wouldn’t necessarily say the writing was sparse, though.  The spaces were descriptive in their own right.  It is almost like we are given a chance to take a breath and figure out what the previous passage meant, before going on to the next.  Outside of poetry, I have rarely seen such effective use of the space on the page.  The breaks, along with the faster pace of the prose, work to balance the story’s momentum.

I liked the story and thought it well told, but was not completely satisfied by the ending, which was a little anticlimactic for my taste.  However, the ending does make sense and fits with the understated tone of the rest of the piece, so others might find it works fine.