This week for Short Tuesday I was on the hunt for short fiction by Georgina Bruce, who has a new short story collection that was just published this month. “Ghost of a Horse Under a Chandelier” is an older story, but I wanted to get a sense of her voice before making a decision about checking out her new collection. You can read the short story for free here…
The story focuses on a young lesbian coming to terms with her sexuality; she has a strong imagination, and interspersed throughout the story are vignettes from a seemingly magical book. It’s all very fuzzy and magical realism-ish, and I wasn’t in love with the vignettes if I’m being honest, since they felt pretty unconnected from the rest of the piece.
The ballroom of the Grand Hotel by candlelight is amber and sepia, drifting into darkness at the edges like an old postcard. It smells of stale water, tallow, and dust. The ruby carpet is threadbare and shiny, and the plaster has been knocked off the walls, leaving bare brick in places, water-stained and sick. But in the candlelight the room still has a certain romance.
The bits in the real world also have a floaty, unmoored feeling. I had a difficult time in the beginning of the piece getting a sense of how old the MC was; she read wayyyy younger to me at first than she actually is. The additional feminist focus had me speeding towards the end to be done with the story. I can appreciate a magical realism story with a coming-of-age focus, but once you start throwing in Patriarch Fish and horses named Andrea Dworkin, we’ve entered territory too silly and ideological for my preference. If there’s anything I can say about my taste in fiction, it’s that I never want to feel like I’m reading short stories penned by r/TwoXChromosomes power users.
“You’re an artist,” says Zillah. She shows Joy what she’s reading, pushing the book over the table.
It is Ursula Bluethunder, Zillah and Joy’s favourite comic book. Ursula Bluethunder is a radical black, woman-loving superheroine, whose mission is to establish a lesbian separatist nation with money that she steals from banks using her superior intelligence, strength, and martial arts skills. She likes hanging out in libraries, too.
See what I mean? It’s just too much for my tastes, though some might love it. So despite some pretty descriptions, this piece was unfortunately not for me.