My short story “The Damaged” is in issue 250 of Interzone. Visit the link Here to check out the other issue contents and, if you so desire, to subscribe.
This week, I’m briefly highlighting two of my favorite stories from Karin Tidbeck’s collection Jagannath, an interesting collection and one that I recommend for lovers of weird short stories.
In “Aunts”, three enormous women who live in a decadent myth-y world spend their time gorging in an effort to become so large that they split down the middle; this is their sole goal in life. When the splitting occurs, the three nieces who tend to them, cooking and serving their food, scoop out their organs; inside the aunts’ bodies are always three little aunts, ready to begin the cycle anew. The nieces cook the old aunts, and feed their bodies to the new aunts, who begin their own growing cycles. Until the nieces are unable to find new aunts within the old aunts’ bodies. This story is strange, and speaks to the cycle of life in a disorienting, bizarre way.
The title story “Jagannath” is my absolutely favorite of the collection, and also deals with the cycle of birth and death. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, a many-legged creature named Jagannath shelters some of the remaining humans in exchange for their living inside of her body and manning the ship, so to speak. Presumably Jagannath is not the only creature who has offered this exchange, as other creatures exist in the world as well, but the world of the story, for the most part, takes place entirely inside Jagannath. The main character is a girl who wants to be one of the drivers of the creature but is told she cannot, for women’s bodies are too big to drive, and only men may do so. This story pulled me in from the beginning, and kept me hanging on until the bitter end.
I’d also like to recommend Tidbeck’s story “I Have Placed My Sickness Upon You,” which appeared in Strange Horizons in March of 2013. I liked this story when I first read it but have to say that I have come to love it as I think about it more and more these days.