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At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories Paperback – September 25, 2012
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A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Top Customer Reviews
The opening story, "26 Monkeys.Also the Abyss", alone is worth the price of admission as we follow Aimee and her troupe of monkeys as they travel the Northwest as carnival nomads in an old bus, her charges performing a trick that Aimee doesn't understand, but accepts. The story line is clever and told in vignettes, not unlike viewing a slide show.
Other standouts include "Fox Magic", where a vixen falls in love with a human and creates an alternate universe where she appears to him to be a beautiful woman who resides in a grand manor. It is not an original theme by any means, but Kij Johnson's story telling is masterful enough to make the story feel fresh. The title story, "At the Mouth of the River of Bees" is a classic tale of love, loss, and hope as Linna, with her aged dog, discover a river of bees while on a road trip with no destination and she is driven to follow the 'river' to its end.
Among the remaining stories, I would have to count "The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles" as a favorite because of its simplicity and I would guess that in this case Ms. Johnson just let the story tell itself as she put the words down. "Wolf Trapping" is a haunting tale of obsession; "The Man Who Bridged the Mist" also deals with obsession, but on a human level.
Of the remaining stories, "Spar" is the most confusing due to its density. My first reaction was, "Huh?", and I was ready to pan it as the worst of the collection.Read more ›
Heavy-duty emotionalism is Ms. Johnson's subject matter in this collection, and many of these stories pack an emotional wallop, either funny or contemplative or very, very sad. Another reviewer said have a box of tissues handy for this collection, and I have to second that recommendation. "At the Mouth of the River of Bees" nearly made me weep, and "Fox Magic" struck me as terribly sad as well. Some of Johnson's characters get what they want, some grow and learn, some suffer losses and gain little from them. This collection will engage you, it will push you, it will wring your heart. If you want stories that move you, this is your collection; if you like stories that are cerebral and cool, this book won't do it for you.
I've been a fan of Kij Johnson since I attended one of her writing seminars at Gen Con in 1998 and have read many of these stories before, but I found a lot that I hadn't read. Having them all in one perfectly packaged book was awesome. Small Beer Press did a great job.
It's hard for me to describe all eighteen stories in the collection, but I'll go over a few of my favorites.
26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss was first published in Asimov's Science Fiction magazine in 2008 and if you haven't read this Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy award winning short story, you're in for a treat. The premise is crazy: a woman buys a traveling monkey show . . . because she must. It's deep, amazing, and will get in your head for a long time. It's still in mine years after first reading it.
Spar, originally published in Clarksworld in 2009, won the Nebula for best short story, and this one will blow your mind. It's a science fiction nightmare about a woman who is trapped with an alien for a very long time. It's a chilling story. I hear people talking about this one at writer gatherings all the time. It's that good.
Fox Magic, originally published in 1993 in Asimov's, and won the Sturgeon Award. It became the basis for the award winning novel, Fox Woman from Tor, which I fell in love with.Read more ›
Plus, I basically want to marry the title of the collection, so there's that.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
While I did not like every story, several were exceptional, and all were innovative and interesting. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mutts
Overall, loved the stories which were well told.
Great characters and themes.
Highly original, wonderfully written stories: engaging and engrossing; perfectly painted scenery/imagery. Highly recommended! Read morePublished 6 months ago by RosieOGrady
I recently discovered Kij Johnson's many delightful and wonderfully crafted tales. I urge serious readers to delve into these rich and thought provoking stories... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Kindle Customer
I heard good things about this collection. There are some great pieces here, like the title story's. But then... There are stinkers like "Spar"...Published 11 months ago by Steve Cagigas
If you're ever having a day in which you're feeling just a little too "up" and happy, read on one of these stories to bring yourself down quickly. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Between the Bookends
The best collection of science fiction short stories to come along in years. Kij Johnson has a unique voice-I look forward to reading more from this author.Published 12 months ago by Rose E. Sekulovich
These are some of the best fantasy stories I have read in a long time. Each one is different. Each one is compelling. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Elise Forier Edie