How Beautiful the Ordinary, ed. by Michael Cart

I’m madly reading Cybils finalists, which I’m not allowed to review until the winner is announced in February, because our judgely reviews might telegraph the result. So in the meantime… catching up on other reviews!

How Beautiful the Ordinary cover
This collection of short stories is subtitled “Twelve stories of identity,” and by identity we mean queerness. I know you can’t subtitle it “Twelve stories of teh gayz,” but this fluttery euphemism annoys me. Anyway.

It’s less uneven than I find most collections; overall, I thought the quality was pretty high. The ones that stuck with me most were:

    “First Time” by Julie Anne Peters, a story of two girlfriends told in counterpoint as they have sex for the first time. I loved how real the two characters are, and how clear the author makes their personalities with nothing to go on but their two internal monologues. I wish I could show it to my 8th grade writing club, but… maybe in a few years.
    “Dear Lang” by Emma Donoghue, in which a woman writes to her teenage daughter who she hasn’t seen since she was a toddler. The woman’s partner gave birth to Lang, so she had no parental rights when the partner kicked her out. She writes to Lang every year, and has no idea whether any of the letters ever reach her. Broke my heart.
    The final novella “The Silk Road Runs Through Tupperneck, N.H.,” by Gregory Maguire. Gregory and I have been in a fight since Mirror, Mirror and Son of a Witch and oh lord I didn’t even read the one about the lion, but this put him back in my good graces. It’s the sort of painful story of first love where you know they can’t possibly live happily ever after. My inner 13-year-old, who wanted Baby and Johnny Castle to get married, is a little angry at how things turn out, but adult me understands that that kind of secret passion is a disaster long-term and that grown-up happiness needs a little heartbreak to pave the way. This story evoked both sides beautifully, and I found myself living inside it for awhile since I couldn’t finish it in one gulp.

Also reviewed at: EDGE Boston and The Goddess of YA Lit.

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3 Responses to How Beautiful the Ordinary, ed. by Michael Cart

  1. Kate says:

    I totally agree. Those last three stuck with me the most, especially “The Silk Road Runs Through Tupperneck N.H.” (I’ve read it twice now)

  2. Sam says:

    I will answer the way I always do: yes, from the library. :)

  3. jaime says:

    oooh! sounds good- can i borrow it?

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