Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Sea, Swallow Me And Other Stories Paperback – November 23, 2008
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
From Publishers Weekly
The best of the stories in this thoughtful debut collection make full use of African and African-American characters, such as when young slave Israel Jones meets a man he's convinced is the guitar-wielding Devil in The Safety of Thorns, or when white tourist Jed encounters Olokun, the patron spirit of enslaved Africans carried across the sea, in the title story. Some of Gidney's experiments with style hit the mark, as in a tale of Arthur Rimbaud riding a French train without a ticket in Strange Alphabets, but homoerotic encounters don't always mix well with folklore-like storytelling, and rich details sometimes pull readers in and sometimes leave the stories feeling saturated and drawn out. Those who don't mind a little digging should find several gems. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Craig Laurance Gidney loves words--sensually, sexually, omnivorously. He streams out floods of them in his stories so that you, too, can taste their deliciousness. He wields them with abandon and precision to create little worlds that rise off the page and engulf you in snow globes of sparkling beauty and perceptiveness. Each story in his latest collection, Sea, Swallow Me and Other Stories, has a strong immersive effect. --the fix Online
Craig Laurance Gidney has a talent for putting words together in an evocative and often disturbing way. His latest book Sea, Swallow Me and Other Stories takes the reader through a labyrinth of words in search of shadows and hauntings. ... Gidney is a master of the English language and his prose is evocative and sensual in the way that Anne Rice writes... --Edge Boston
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Beneath this intricate scaffolding runs a stratum of mythological, historical, literary, cinematic, architectural, anatomical and botanical knowledge. Visual art references (Dali, Frida Kahlo) are interwoven with juxtapositions of European and African folkore (Ondine, The Tar Baby) and Freudian angst, although the portrait of a dead mother also hearkens to Wilde's novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray".
Exploring sensual tricks of a yosei, ambitions of an impoverished poet, or abuse of a slave girl, Gidney portrays our mortal coil with laconic irony and compassion. He swings like a trapeze artist from the ErlKing to Eva Peron, from Snagglepuss to Saint Sebastian, Satan or the Samurai; from Beatrix Potter to Baudrillard, Boy Wonder, Bette Davis or Betty Boop; from Icarus to Iemanja or Izambard. These are complemented by musical references: jazz, darkwave, surreal pop, gothic dreamrock, a nondescript haze of dance, rave, jive, techno, acid, ambient / space genres, nostalgic musicals and cult celluloid (eg. "Twin Peaks"). Olokun strikes me as a majestic, chthonic prototype of the Fluke in "The X Files", while the concept of the island as a sentient being that hates or loves its flawed interloper, reminds me of "Lost".
When Oscar Wilde quipped "all bad poetry is sincere", he was expressing a paradox: that authors need to be at once immersed and detached; morality is self-indulgent. Poetic is harder to attain than Polemic. Gidney dances around this trap. It's exhilarating to read story after story by someone who not only refuses to preach, but who has no need to. One senses that storytelling is his natural element. Like Dante and Virgil in Hell, the protagonist of the second tale leads us through underworld clubs and bedrooms; each scene could be a canto of Inferno, where occupants writhe in desire, repeating their cycle of seduction. I'm reminded of a paradox observed by Zizek: that love (or desire) is at once an expression of our greatest freedom and our greatest prison, with phrases like "I cannot do otherwise", echoing down the ages like the fatal compulsion of Romeo and Juliet. This tale calls upon Cervantes' formula of obsessive hero Don Quixote (Oliver) and his comical, reassuring side-kick Sancho Panza (Pompeii).
Gidney's voice seems shamanic. With a few deft strokes he guides the reader into different states of consciousness, bending objects, landscapes and creatures into phantasmagoria, playing tricks like a shape-shifter, reminding me of Ben Okri's novel "The Famished Road", in which a spirit child of the Abiku slips in and out of dreamscapes and perceives spirits among the living. Stylistically, Gidney is closer to Italian magic-realist, Italo Calvino, or Britain's precocious A.S.Byatt. As Bloom suggests, great artists influence not only what follows but what precedes them. Their power stretches backwards in time, as well as forwards. My perception of magic realists or goths, including Poe, Borges and Dunsany, is altered by this new talent.
- Louisa John-Krol (wife of the Tin Teardrop)
In the opening tale, The Safety of Thorns, the trappings of the plantation meld into the realm of myth and discovery with strong poetic imagery, yet the characters rise from up off the page with a stark realism. A slave boy is given a powerful elixir by a devil, but still has to find the strength he needs to grapple with reality from within. Equally impressive stories follow. It would be easy for the casual reader/reviewer to exclaim delight at discovering a gay black writer introducing gay black characters into the otherwise lamely heterosexual elf-white worlds of fantasy, but I found the author's pallet much more assured than that; like Walker, his art is not only arresting, subversive and naturally erotic, it stretches boundaries and genuinely puts the speculative back in speculative fiction. Importantly, the stories are as engaging as challenging; no one will close the book thinking they've been slipped a thesis a' la latter-day Delaney.
The three best stories, the aforementioned The Safety of Thorns, the titular Sea, Swallow Me, and A Bird of Ice, respectively open, support the middle, and (nearly) close the book. Sea, Swallow Me allows the reader to swim within some spectacular writing and nearly drown in a feeling of otherness. A Bird of Ice takes place within the snowy confines of an ancient Japanese monastery. A young monk is courted by a member of the fairy folk and ends up confronting much more than the homoerotic awakenings of adolescence. Not that the remaining stories are by any means filler. The few pieces I suspected of being early work still possessed all of the strengths exhibited in the best work. All offered a diversity of setting and theme, making the book one of constant exploration. In fact, when not paying close enough attention while reading the story Strange Alphabets, I thought I'd caught the author making that obnoxious freshman blunder of naming a character after a beloved writer: Rimbaud. I was genuinely thrilled to realize my mistake as the story concerns the train-bound sexual (and quite sticky at that) adventures of the actual poet, a nice historical twist, which, like the exceptionally short Magpie Sisters, keeps the book off-balance. Meaning it surprises. This is not your comfortable Renaissance Fair of modern fantasy and that's a good thing. Hell, it's startlingly refreshing.
Fantasy is seriously lacking in gay fiction written by gay men. Funny, that in writing this review I was initially hesitant to bring up race, for fear that by implication I would give potential readers the impression that in some way the polemic (as if that's somehow inherent to discussions of equality) shapes or invades these stories. Not so. The artist Kara Walker deftly works in black and white with obvious, evocative success. Craig Gidney wields a vivid rainbow of promise.