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Black Juice Paperback – March 15, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 201 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (March 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060743905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060743901
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,046,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up–Every selection in this rich collection is strange and startling, a glimpse into weird, wondrous, and sometimes terrifying worlds. "Singing My Sister Down," "House of the Many," and "Earthly Uses" use the death of a character to illustrate the trajectory that grief gives to those who surround those characters. In "Sweet Pippit," a group of elephants break from captivity to rescue the one human who can lead and love them. "Wooden Bride" centers on Matty Weir and her decision to change herself forever by participating in her town's anonymous group marriage ceremony, providing a sly, unconventional commentary on today's consumer-heavy wedding culture. "Red Nose Day" provides a glimpse into the hearts of two assassins who are killing clowns. "Yowlinin" is a story of ostracism and disaster; an outcast girl warns of a plague but is unheeded, with catastrophic results. The 10 stories all hover near a 20-page range. Lanagan uses beautiful, lyrical language to tell peculiar, disturbing tales. This collection may need some introduction, and would work especially well in a classroom setting; it is full of teachable moments. The selections are subtle and scary, and are remarkably different from most short stories aimed at teens. This book will satisfy readers hungry for intelligent, literary fantasies that effectively twist facets of our everyday world into something alien.–Sarah Couri, New York Public Library

From Booklist

Gr. 9-12. Lanagan's 10 fantasy short stories are set in cultures both familiar and unknown and are peopled with empathetic characters who battle nature, individuals, and events. The stories begin slowly, in part because readers must acclimate themselves to new worlds and situations, but Lanagan gradually draws readers into each brief, fresh reality. Perhaps the most memorable story is the first, "Singing My Sister Down," about a family that lovingly crafts a celebration of grief as one of their own sinks deeper and deeper into tar pits. Other moving stories include "The Wooden Bride," about a bride who is late for her own wedding, and "Youlinin," a strange story of unrequited love. Each selection is carefully crafted and uses both familiar and inventive language to such intriguing effect that English teachers may want to incorporate the stories into classroom writing exercises. Frances Bradburn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Koppel on April 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
A Bit Unusual. This is a rather interesting fantasy collection but it is not for everybody. These ten tales are dark but they are not horror. Some seem to be in our world while others are in worlds twisted and strange. The very first story where a family participates in an act of justice against one of their own should warn the reader of what is to follow.

While there are some elements of the fantastic in some of the stories, they are not the focus of these tales. These are not stories of dragons, wizards and fairies, although some may appear. Instead they are tales of the heart and the mind. They take us deep inside the characters in tales where thoughts and not actions are the focus. A fine collection all around.

If you enjoy the introspective tale then this collection is for you. If you are looking for dragon slaying and spell casting, then you might want to check out something different.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Gavin J. Grant on March 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is Lanagan's first collection published in the US (she has a # of other titles available in Australia) and it is a cracker! I almost recommend reading the first story last: it is so good and odd and different that you might have to take a break after reading before you read the rest. And you won't want to take that break, because this is one of the best collections you will read this year.

Recommended for smart readers of any age.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By delzey on June 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Having been given a number of "warnings" about the intensity of Lanagan's most recent book, Tender Morsels, I decided to get a better sense of her writing through one of her short story collections first.

I wish someone had warned me about this collection as well.

Lanagan is an intense writer of dark, emotional, human fantasy worlds. There are echoes of older cultures and languages buried deep in these worlds, a sense not so much as coming from another planet but as if reading reports from undiscovered country. It is the type of fiction that reads like literary reportage from a past frontier transported through time. Like something forbidden, these stories are a black juice indeed.

The collection opens with "Singing Down My Sister," a strange description of a ritual that involves sending a woman out into the center of a lake of tar. Knowing Lanagan hails from Australia, and having grown up with the tar pits of LA, it wasn't too illogical a step for me to imagine a sort of hybrid Aboriginal culture that appeared to be redressing some sort of wrong through an old, odd cleansing process involving tar. But no, this is clearly something else as the event at hand is actually an execution, a slow death in front of an audience with a wake built in. Equally fascinating and disconcerting, the effect is how I would imagine it to be watching surgery being performed on myself while fully conscious.

Short story collections by their nature must start off strong and bold. They must open with a story full of promise for the rest of the collection yet not be so strong as to let the reader down along the way. Reading "Singing Down My Sister" it almost feels intimidating to continue with the rest of the book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By seldombites on December 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is the first I've heard of Margo Lanagan, but I feel it won't be the last. Black Juice is a collection of short stories of the superb quality I have come to expect from the genre's Australian authors. I fully enjoyed every single one of the stories included in this book.

* Singing My Sister Down- This is a very sad story about an unusual tribal punishment, and my favourite story in this collection.
* My Lord's Man - A story about love, acceptance and misjudgement.
* Red Nose Day - An interesting twist on the typical clown story.
* Sweet Pippit - A beautiful story about elephants and their love for their handler. This is my second favourite story in this collection.
* House of the Many - A story about the fading of our childhood impressions.
* Wooden Bride - An interesting story about living up to our word.
* Earthly Uses - A twist on the concept of angels.
* Perpetual Light - Set in a future world where the air is unbreathable.
* Yowlinin - Monsters and outcasts of society meet.
* Rite of Spring - Singing in the season.
* The Point of Roses - This is my pick for third place in this collection. A boy with great powers influences others.

Margo's stories are magnificent, engrossing and above all, thought-provoking. My top three stories in this collection are Singing My Sister Down, Sweet Pippit and The Point Of Roses. All three of these stories are worthy of your attention.
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Format: Paperback
I read Margo Lanagan’s novel ‘Tender Morsels’ about four years ago in a Youth Services class I took as an elective for my MLIS degree and had never read anything like it in my life. It was one of the most bizarre and original novels I’ve ever read. I don’t know why it took me so long to follow up on her other books but I have begun to remedy that with the reading of her pre-‘Morsels’ collection of stories, ‘Black Juice.’

While there is no story with the title “Black Juice” in this collection, that phrase is very appropriate for the flavor of these strange fantasies. I know that Lanagan is from Australia and, while some of the stories have obvious Australian settings, others could occur anywhere. I also know that she wrote children’s stories for a few years before moving up the age scale into the ‘Young Adult’ category. However, that label can be misleading here. She writes fantasies that are beautifully written, highly metaphorical meditations on surreal settings that would be utterly natural within the realm of a dream and yet strangely unsettling if one tried to place them in this world.

The opening story, “Singing My Sister Down,” sets the tone for the collection. Told from the point of view of a boy who, along with the rest of his shamed family, must participate in his sister’s public execution by forced sinking inside a tar pit. The very casual and natural tone of the narration is reminiscent of the horrific Shirley Jackson story, “The Lottery,” with a Down Under setting. The girl, her family and all the spectators accept the entire ceremony as a perfectly natural form of justice.

Another story, “Sweet Pippit,” is told by one of a herd of elephants searching for their human keeper, whom they perceive to be in some sort of danger.
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