Book Review: Velocities: Stories by Kathe Koja | More2Read
 

Velocities: Stories by Kathe Koja



Kathe Koja’s second short fiction collection, Velocities, is dark, disturbing, and heartfelt. It includes thirteen stories, including two never before published, all flying at the speed of strange.

AT HOME ~Eventide ~Baby ~Velocity | DOWNTOWN ~Clubs ~Urb Civ | ON THE WAY ~Fireflies ~Coyote Pass ~Road Trip | OVER THERE ~Toujours ~Far & Wee ~The Marble Lily ~La Reine d’Enfer | INSIDE ~Pas de Deux


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Praise:

“A modern genius of weird and dark fiction, Kathe Koja once again proves with Velocities that she’s adept at plunging the reader into strange and unexpected places. One of my favorite collections of the year.”
– Jeff VanderMeer, NYT-bestselling author of Dead Astronauts, Borne and the Southern Reach trilogy

“Velocities is prime Kathe Koja, with all that that entails: supercharged, dense as hell, oblique, glorious. Every story is a lesson in how to write faster, more intensely, from angles other people never seem to think of: industrial poetry, word mosaics like insect eyes, multifoliate as the insides of flowers, every image a scattered, burrowing seed, spreading narrative like a disease. I’ve loved her work since long before I ever aspired to produce anything like it—in fact, I’m still not sure anyone else is capable of doing what she does, of coming close, let alone hitting the mark. But damn, it’s equally so much fun to admire the result as it is to even vaguely try.”
– Gemma Files, award-winning author of Spectral Evidence


Review:

These five that I liked were intriguing and vivid with the strangeness and horrors along with eloquent sentences in places, all combined together to stories that kept me reading on.

 

At Eventide

A mystery man in pain in search of something a task past and present merging a maker of things boxes awaits a task need doing.
Vivid telling with nicely laced together words.

“There was not much scenery, unless you like the desert, its lunar space, its brutal endlessness; the man did not. He was a creature of cities, of pocket parks and dull anonymous bars; of waiting rooms and holding cells; of emergency clinics; of pain.”

“They brought her what she needed, there in the workshop: they brought her her life. Plastic flowers, fraying T-shirts, rosaries made of shells and shiny gold; school pictures, wedding pictures, wedding rings, books; surprising how often there were books. Address books, diaries, romance novels, murder mysteries, Bibles; one man even brought a book he had written himself, a ruffled stack of printer paper tucked into a folding file.
Everything to do with the boxes she did herself.”

 

Baby

A young girls first person telling of a love of a kind to a cherished find one in ways handed down with possible terrible history behind it and offering up a chance to grasp a certain feeling.

 

Velocity

A strange red house lays at the center of this piece.

 

Coyote Pass

Mother passed away and now waits a lonesome house too quiet for comfort a need for a canine friend, a puppy leading to an encounter with a girl and a kernel she works at for the new friend.

“Amazing too to find herself still here, the last daughter, like some figure out of a fairy tale: While the other sisters were out dancing with the handsome princes, Last Daughter was in the castle with the queen. Dealing with the hospice workers, the insurance company, the sound of the house at night, that nothing sound so loud she had to go outside to drown it out: into the creosote wind, the smell of sage, the darkness, the faraway barking of the dogs.”

“Anyway she, she passed away, so I’m the caretaker now. And it gets so quiet out there, at night especially, I always wanted—I want a dog.”

 

Road trip

Do you want to be healed?
A little road trip excursion and aboard a plane to a gathering in search of some healing or miracle.

“How can people live in a climate like this? Why did you even come?
Okay. In a strip mall, Okay. Pass a drugstore, discount store, various restaurants (The Oasis, Redd Robbin’s), the Home Improvement Barn; trolling and craning through the traffic and the heat, through the secret crawl of sweat on your back, sour elixir of salt and light. The thickets of skepticism, the forests of desire, oh sure, as you trawl down Madison, looking for Oaktree, looking for a strip mall and BCI on the window, the louver-blinds are always shut, what for? So no one can see what they do in there? So no one can see you, doing what no rational person would or should do, committing the cardinal sin of stupidity and need? Gonna wade in the Jordan, wade in the Jordan, let the waters break over my head-
-and there it is, Cigarette King, way over on the opposite side of the road so you have to pass it to turn around, pass it and keep going, your mind advises, the part that still can reason, the part ungripped by pain: the pain that never passes, that never wavers or abates, that wakes you dry-eyed in the night until you have to get out of bed and walk, walk, walk it down—because you can’t drink it down, not anymore, right? Even when you get out of rehab? Even when they give you back your car?
Where are we going?
Nowhere, baby. Just for a ride.”



 

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 29 April 2020