Title: And I Do Not Forgive You: Stories & Other Revenges
Author: Amber Sparks
Publisher: Liveright, W.W. Norton & Co.
Genre: Short Stories, Magical Realism
Amber Sparks writes short fiction with such deft and empathy, that it manages to hit all the right spots for me. There is fantasy in her stories, grounded in reality of our lives that make us see lives of others, while always holding a reflection up to ours. This collection of 22 stories is strange, mesmerising, and often tend to go to dark places, which some readers may not be comfortable with. She reimagines myths and legends, folk tales, fairy tales, and sometimes even reimagines the world we inhabit.
Whether she is writing about a teenage girl befriending a ghost in her trailer park or about a princess who wants to run away from her father, the King who wants to marry her, she packs a punch almost most of the time. These stories are about women, for women, and written by a woman. These stories put them to the front and that’s what I loved the most about them. There is no “male perspective” and to me that is always refreshing.
The stories might come across as whimsical sometimes but they are extremely profound (I reread some and loved them even more). For instance, love as sacrifice in We Destroy the Moon – that speaks of new prophet or demigod or leader at the end, implies that why can’t a woman be at the helm of things? What is then the definition of a woman? Is she a mere follower? Or could be a leader?
The relationships between characters in these stories take their time to develop, some even come to light right at the end and that’s perhaps the beauty of these stories. Nothing is expected. Nothing is the same. From husbands who grow wings, to lion tamers that get eaten, to moments of extraordinary happiness that spurt to life here and there, Spark’s stories are dangerous, on-the-edge, comforting (strangely), and dream of a world that is possible. A world of freedom.