Leonora Carrington creates Aesop’s fables with sick twists. This is the best way that I can describe this collection of flash stories. Each story feels a bit like a children’s story, written in a very simple, straightforward, minimalistic sense. However, they are so dark and sinister that they are in no way children’s stories. I love this twisted style of Carrington’s.

Leonora Carrington

Surrealistic Painter and Writer, Carrington Subverts Expectations

The quirky nature of some of the stories in this collection are endearing. “The Royal Summons” starts with the narrator receiving a summons from the royals. It reads: “I went to fetch my car, but my chauffeur, who has no practical sense at all, had just buried it. ‘I did it to grow mushrooms,’ he told me. ‘There’s no better way of growing mushrooms’” (16). I love the way each story lives in its own universe. Some are quirky, while others are terrifying.

“A Man in Love” begins with our narrator stealing a melon and a man catching him, insisting that he will not turn the narrator in if he listens to the man’s story. Quirky, and simple enough. The man is super creepy, saying “For forty years I’ve hidden behind this pile of oranges in the hope that somebody might pinch some fruit. And the reason for that is this: I want to talk, I want to tell my story. If you don’t listen, I’ll hand you over to the police” (23). The man goes on to show the narrator the inside of his shop, where he has been harboring a woman in a bed overgrown with grass for years. The man says, “I water her every day […] For forty years I’ve been quite unable to tell whether she is alive or dead. She hasn’t moved or spoken or eaten during that time. But, and this is the strange thing, she remains warm” (24). Carrington’s characters come and go quickly in the span of the text, but their actions and words live with the reader much longer than after they’ve read the last word.

Never Innocent, Her Stories Terrify

One of my other favorites in the collection was “Pigeon, Fly!” for its suspenseful revelations. An artist is hired to paint a corpse. The artist is asked by a man who is grieving his wife to paint a portrait for her from the corpse before she is buried. When the artist finishes painting the corpse, “I stepped back a few paces to see the whole composition. The face on the canvas was my own” (65). When the husband sees the portrait, he exclaims “the likeness is extraordinary, my compliments, dear lady” (65). Carrington plays with the uncanny and subverting the expectations of the reader perfectly in such short stories.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)