My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Margo Lanagan is a brilliantly evocative writer and this short story collection, Yellow Cake, opens up mysterious and unfathomable worlds that sit alongside the hope, joy, misery and sadness of ordinary lives.
Lanagan is an accomplished weaver of words, and the language in each of these stories is mesmerising. However, this collection does require some work from the reader to fully enter into the spaces and lives the author has created. The work is well worth it, however, as readers are treated to richly layered short stories that resonate on many levels.
My personal favourites in this collection are Ferryman, Into the Clouds on High, and Eyelids of the Dawn, each of which epitomise the blend of ordinariness and myth that underpin all the stories. In Ferryman, the simplicity of the opening line – “Wrap your Pa up some lunch, Sharon.” unfolds into a grief-laden mythical world where “The dead are lined up in their groups looking dumbly about”. Into the Clouds on High is superb. Again, the ordinariness of family life is contrasted against crisis and grief in a compelling story that is filled with strength and sadness. Eyelids of the Dawn is unlike any other story I’ve read and opened up new vistas of the imagination for me.
Each of the stories in this collection encompasses a whole world packed within a few short pages. I absolutely loved it and am in awe of Lanagan’s skill as a writer and creator. Highly recommended if you love richly imagined stories that challenge you as a reader, and leave you breathless.