This is a very good short story collection that came out last year. The quality comes in a lot of ways, namely that like other goof story collections there’s both a stylistic and thematically (and especially tonal) consistency among the stories here. The opening story is told in a kind of afterlife collection voice of girls who have died as a consequence of patriarchy — in a kind of displaced ahistorical way — and this narrative distance continues through almost all of the stories. We don’t have a kind of slice of life situation going on in any of the stories. Even the most direct, narrative stories still manage to create space and distance between the stories and their telling. There’s a clear sense of a telling happening more so than a narration here.
So the effect is that of looking at lives, ideas, spaces, and narrative almost as museum pieces. The title story, which tells the history of the different historical museum tasked with telling the history of the Trojan War, provides the right metaphorical language to think about the rest of the stories. And a later story, which involves a personal, narrative, and aesthetic history of a particular artist’s work and life also puts these ideas on display.
The effect over all is like that of reading a collection of literature translated from another language (although this collection is written in English and I am reading it in English). There’s an arm’s length distance to everything, which puts it on a kind of display.