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Skin Folk Paperback – December 1, 2001
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Award-winning author Nalo Hopkinson's first collection is Skin Folk, and its 15 stories are as strong and beautiful as her novels.
"The Glass Bottle Trick" retells the Bluebeard legend in a Caribbean setting and rhythms, for a sharp, chilling examination of love, gender, race, and class. In the myth-tinged "Money Tree," a Canadian immigrant's greed sends him back to Jamaica in pursuit of an accursed pirate treasure. In "Slow Cold Chick," a woman must confront the deadly cockatrice that embodies her suppressed desires. In the postapocalyptic science fantasy "Under Glass," events in one world affect those in another, and a child's carelessness may doom them both. The lightest of fantastic imagery touches "Fisherman," a tropically hot tale of sexual awakening, and one of the five original stories in Skin Folk. --Cynthia Ward
From Publishers Weekly
Caribbean folklore informs many of the 15 stories, ranging from fabulist to mainstream, in this literary first short-fiction collection from Nebula and Hugo awards-nominee Hopkinson (Brown Girl in a Ring; Midnight Robber). Notable in the folk-tale vein is "Riding the Red," about Red Riding Hood, now a grandma, and her primal relationship with the wolf. Unlikable protagonists feature in several remarkable stories. In "Greedy Choke Puppy" a bitter woman discards her skin at night and kills children for their life-force. In "Under Glass," set in a postapocalyptic Earth scoured by glass storms, a girl caught outside during a storm realizes what it means to be too hard-hearted. Other stories celebrate life as characters learn to come to terms with what and who they are. In "A Habit of Waste," Cynthia, formerly black but now in a new, white body, brings food to an indigent man, only to discover that he has unexpected resources. "Slow Cold Chick" follows Blaise, the terrified owner of a rapidly growing cockatrice, as she gains the courage to speak her mind. Hopkinson implies that the extraordinary is part of the fabric of day-to-day life. Her descriptions of ordinary people finding themselves in extraordinarily circumstances ring true, the result of her strong evocation of place and her ear for dialect. Some stories meander, but underneath them all is a sure grasp of humanity, good and bad, and the struggle to understand and to communicate. Agent, Don Maass. (Dec. 1)Forecast: Though marketed as science fiction, this collection should hand-sell to fans of multicultural fiction. Born in Jamaica, Hopkinson grew up in Guyana, Trinidad and Canada, her current home.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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I highly recommend this collection of short stories for anyone that's a fan of modern retellings of fairy tales/folk lore, Caribbean tales and amazing writing.
1. "The Money Tree": A story of a young woman's search for her brother who has disappeared. Interwoven with the legend of a greedy pirate and mermaid legend, this tale is rich with beautiful imagery. I loved how objects of magic such as a pear tree and a "golden table" insert themselves into mundane everyday life.
2. "Snake": A man comes to the same park everyday to observe his surroundings and the children that play across the street. A disturbing tale that offers a welcome sense of justice at the end. Terrifying but poignant.
3. "Under Glass": An amazing tale of a world ravaged by beautiful but ruthless wind composed of deadly glass shards. Sheeny desperately tries to reach her home before the wind overtakes her while an embittered older woman seeks escape from her ravaged, lonely life. With hints of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," this story was riveting and had a wonderfully ambiguous twist ending.
4. "The Glass Bottle Trick": Horrifying but clever twist on a familiar Charles Perrault fairy tale. I will not say which one.
5. "Fisherman": Loneliness and curiosity drive a fisherman to seek pleasure in a brothel. However, this story has a twist. Explicit but told in dialect and very insightful.
6. "Greedy Choke Puppy": A Tale of the fierce love of family, a young woman's desperation and "syroccogan" or vampires.
7. "Ganger "Ball Lightning)": Oh, my. Very erotic but rich examination of the misunderstandings that arise in marriage and the destructive danger that arises from miscommunication.
8. "Precious": A Beautiful look at the "Diamonds and Toads" fairy tale and its aftermath. Was the original ending truly a happy one?
These and seven other stories comprise this amazing collection. The imagery and sensory details of these stories kept me glued to the pages. The author's descriptions of certain kinds of food made me salivate! You will not be disappointed. God bless you all.
Some of the tales here are rather underdeveloped and move along too quickly, with implausible plot jumps and incomplete conclusions. Examples are "Tan Tan and Dry Bone" which is merely a distilled vignette from one of Hopkinson's later novels; or the potentially terrifying, but rushed and inconclusive, "Greedy Choke Puppy." However the day is saved by winners like "Under Glass," which has a very unique doomsday/dystopia scenario, and great sketches of expatriate Caribbean characters and culture in "Money Tree" and "A Habit of Waste." The apex of the collection is the highly disturbing erotica tale "Ganger (Ball Lightning)," in which a couple learns to overcome malfunctioning and possessed bedroom toys and work out their relationship problems the old-fashioned way. This is in fact one of Hopkinson's best running themes - as technology's got nothing on culture and humanity. [~doomsdayer520~]
Most recent customer reviews
Judith Woolcock Colombo
Hot and spicy with the rhythm of the Caribbean, Skin Folk is a collection of 15 short stories by Jamaican born Canadian author...Read more