My senior year of college I took a class with the professor I most admired. His name is Samuel (yep, he let us call him “Samuel), and the course was “Postmodern Fictions”; it’s still my favorite course of all time. I just love meta-aware writing, books that deconstruct themselves or other texts, even as they’re being written. One of my all-time favorite authors, to whom I was introduced in Samuel’s course, is Angela Carter. Her feminist revisions of fairy tales still thrill me as pieces of writing and political commentaries.

So when my friend Piotr asked me to review Katie Farris’ collection of short stories BoysGirls, I was eager to do so, and I wasn’t disappointed. Farris’ stories recall Carter and the best of A.S. Byatt’s short works. They are mystical and magical – girls with mirrors for faces, boys with one wing. Stories of almost Greek legend and fairytales taken back to the darkness that was theirs originally.

The Introduction begins this way:

There are ways of telling a story, they say, so
that it comes alive. In the quaint way of
stories. Meaning we may be mesmerized.
Meaning we may begin to sketch out, in the eyes of
our mind, a more or less spectacular vision. What this
does not mean is that my hand, my madwoman’s
hand, neatly manicured with a certain fragile glowing
in my too-white skin, will reach out to take you, dear
reader, by the throat. I can feel you swallowing.

And you do not come from this reading unscathed. These are the kind of stories that populate your dreams with people who are frightening in their purple beauty and profound in their pain. The pieces do take you by the throat and force you to breathe differently. In short, they are amazing.

So get hold of the collection, released this month by Marick Press
. Sit down with a cup of tea or a glass of strong whisky and prepare to feel your breath come ragged.