And I Do Not Forgive You by Amber Sparks
Exciting fans of such writers as Kelly Link, Karen Russell, and Carmen Maria Machado with prose that shimmers and stings, Amber Sparks holds a singular role in the canon of the weird. Now, she reaches new, uncanny heights with And I Do Not Forgive You. In “Mildly Happy, With Moments of Joy,” a friend is ghosted by a simple text message; in “Everyone’s a Winner at Meadow Park,” a teen precariously coming of age in a trailer park befriends an actual ghost. At once humorous and unapologetically fierce, these stories shine an interrogating light on the adage that “history likes to lie about women”— as the subjects of “A Short and Speculative History of Lavoisier’s Wife” and “You Won’t Believe What Really Happened to the Sabine Women” (it’s true, you won’t) will attest. Blending fairy tales and myths with apocalyptic technologies, all tethered intricately by shades of rage, And I Do Not Forgive You offers a mosaic of an all-too-real world that fails to listen to its silenced goddesses.
(3.5 stars, rounded up to 4)
Overall, I really enjoyed this short story collection! I have mini reviews of all the stories below, but as a general overview: I really like the writing in most of the stories; Sparks is a very talented writer, and that comes through. I thought all the ideas were very interesting and creative, and most of them, especially the longer ones, were executed well.
The overall average of all the stories was 3.8 stars, which is why I rounded up to 4. But it’s more of a 3.5 for me. I enjoyed a lot of the stories, and thought there were some fantastic ideas in here. But there were also a lot of “meh” or fine stories, and quite a few I thought could have been much longer.
Anyhow, here are some (very mini) reviews of all the stories!
Mildly Unhappy, with Moments of Joy: 4 stars; I overall really enjoyed this story of two friends who fall out of friendship, and liked the mystery/intrigue; a very strong start to the collection
You Won’t Believe What Really Happened to the Sabine Women: 3.5 stars; loved the message, just thought it was very short
A Place for Hiding Precious Things: 4 stars; this is like a modern fairytale, and I really enjoyed it; liked the setting and overall story; very atmospheric and fun
Everyone’s a Winner in Meadow Park: 3 stars; I’m not sure how I feel about this one; on the one hand, it was entertaining and the more chill writing was kind of fun; on the other hand, the writing got annoying and I didn’t really feel anything about this story; I felt like I’d read it before; but, I also feel like it was very good; so overall, very mixed feelings, not sure
A Short and Slightly Spectacular History of Lavoisier’s Wife: 3.5 stars; entertaining, but also ultimately left me feeling nothing; I get what it was trying to do, but I don’t think it was entirely successful
We Destroy the Moon: 4.5 stars; I really enjoyed this apocalyptic, culty story; it was short and to the point, but still managed to pack a punch.
In Which Athena Designs a Video Game with the Express Purpose of Trolling Her Father: 4 stars; this was cute and silly; it was short but I enjoyed it.
Is the Future a Nice Place for Girls: 3.5 stars; I enjoyed this as well, but don’t have much to say about it.
Our Mutual (Theatre) Friend: 4 stars; I really liked this story of an old retired actress, and would read a novella with the same plot or novel following the titular theatre friend.
The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines: 4 stars; I really enjoyed this story of a plain woman who feels invisible; it was very fun considering how short it was.
The Eyes of Saint Lucy: 4.5 stars; this was a quiet, dreamlike story, and I really enjoyed it; one of my favourites of the collection so far (I wrote that but, as of like five days later, I cannot remember what this story was about so).
We Were a Storybook Back Then: 4 stars; I would have rated this higher had it been longer, but overall, I really enjoyed it.
Rabbit by Rabbit: 3.5 stars; this was good, but not a favourite; very poignant, though I think it would have been better had it been a little longer.
Through the Looking-Glass: 3.5 stars; I didn’t really understand this story, but I also get the feeling that had it been more fleshed out, I would have loved it.
The Noises from the Neighbours Upstairs: a Nightly Log: 4 stars; I usually like open-ended endings, but I wanted a more definite ending for this one; still really enjoyed it though.
Our Geographic History: 4 stars; I love stories like this, that are lists and give snapshots into someone’s life; so I enjoyed this one a lot.
DEATH DESERVES ALL CAPS: On Planning for My (Very Far-Off) Funeral: 3.5 stars; this was fun, but ultimately not my favourite.
A Wholly New and Novel Act, with Monsters: 3 stars; idk, this wasn’t really a story, more just a description of deaths by circus animals, and I didn’t enjoy it per se.
When the Husband Grew Wings: 4 stars; very short, but I liked it; good for her tbh.
The Language of the Stars: 3 stars; idk I just didn’t enjoy this story even though it seemed like something I should have.
Mildly Joyful, with Moments of Extraordinary Unhappiness: 5 stars; I LOVED this one; it was short but impactful and to the point.
Tour of the Cities we Have Lost: 4 stars; I didn’t get the point of this story, but I did enjoy it.
But those are just my thoughts! Have you read this book? What did you think? Do you have any favourite short story collections? Let me know!