No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Sunday, April 30, 2006

#40: My Death -- Lisa Tuttle

This is an odd, circular little story, a chapbook rather than a novel. (Some authors would probably have spun out the story to novel-length. Tuttle doesn't waste words.)

The narrator (I'm not sure she is ever named) is a widow, a writer who wasn't written a word since the sudden death of her husband. After a visit to an art gallery, she's taken with the idea of writing the biography of Helen Ralston -- Muse to renowned Scottish artist Willy Logan, and an artist and writer in her own right. The narrator of the tale admits strong influence from Ralston's books, especially In Troy, and is intrigued by the account of what happened to Logan and Ralston on a small island just off the coast, where Logan was struck blind. And now it turns out that Helen Ralston is still alive ...

The story's an unsettling blend of horrific and mundane. Something magical does happen: Logan's blindness is explained. But the gaps in Helen Ralston's narrative, and the connections between the two women, have a logic that is simple and compelling, never mind the happy ending. (That last para sits oddly for me, too.)

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