Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Rusalka's Long Legs" by Olivia Clare

Olivia Clare, a poet, a fiction writer and a current UNLV Black Mountain Institute Ph.D. fellow is also a recipient of the 2014 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award. (And here I was complaining that I was lacking literary community in Las Vegas. Guess I wasn't looking hard enough.) When I learned of this big win by a current Vegas resident, I had to look her up.

"Rusalka's Long Legs," published in The Kenyon Review is what I found and..., oh! It's heartbreaking! And suspenseful! Heartbreaking and suspenseful in a way similar to "Nemecia," a story by Kirsten Valdez Quade, who happens to be a 2013 recipient of the same award.

Anyway, the one story reminder of the other because I found both of them difficult to read, so vulnerable are the characters, children; and so tragic are their plights, physical mutilation. This is interesting to me because while I thoroughly enjoyed both stories and while I'm not likely to ever forget either of them, the sheer agony I associate with reading them makes me wonder if I could ever write such a story: one that faces such tragedy directly on, leading the reader by hand and guiding them to the very, very edge, going even so far as to dangle them over for a moment.

And just wondering this makes me know I have to try.

Olivia Clare


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