Monday, August 25, 2008

Reader's Diary #387- Jackie Kay: Wish I Was Here

Short Story Monday

This month's short story pick over at A Curious Singularity is Jackie Kay's "Wish I Was Here."

I'll start things off by saying I didn't like it. But, I'll try to be a bit more diplomatic than that (after all Kate, the host of ACS, says "Kay is a brilliant short story writer as well," and calls her "one of [her] all time favourites").

So, here's the part where, when I'm in one of my more gentle moods, I try to begin with with something positive. I hope, in this case, my positive doesn't seem insincere or backhanded: the narrator and quasi-protagonist, Paula, is one of the most annoying and consistent characters I've read in quite some time. She made me think of Ned Flanders and poodles. That such an irritating character did not make me transfer that negative energy towards Kay herself was quite a feat. Perhaps Paula was most grating because she was believable: self-absorbed, self-pitying, judgemental and a lousy comedian to boot. We all know people like this, but I find it hard to have sympathy for such individuals.

If that's my positive, how bad can my negative be? It depends on your taste. Personally, I found the plot spread way too thin. Paula is trying to endure a vacation where she has to meet Claudette and her new lover, Jan. It is painfully obvious that Paula is jealous. There is no resolution. This might be your thing.

To end on a positive note, I liked the title. In fact, I think "Wish I Was Here" would have been better had nothing followed the title.

(Cross-posted at A Curious Singularity.)


Allison said...

"She made me think of Ned Flanders and poodles."

Well, I'm terrified of both, so I'll pass on this one.

John Mutford said...

Allison: She's not fanatically religious, so you're safe in that regard. Still some Flander-esque quality-itilies though.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

hahaha Al, I was just thinking that line made me absolutely have to read this story! Although I am sure it will be much more entertaining to just read John's reviews.

Anonymous said...

You remind me that I still need to write a review for this story as well - I think I tucked it safely away underneath my 'to do' pile: yes, Flanders and poodles, how about the girl (or man) hanging out in the bar who is desperately looking for company and you try and avoid her/him at all costs? But then, being able to write about her in such a way that you actually dislike her, well, that's something too!