Monday, December 23, 2013

Diana Rowland's "City Lazarus"

Another short story devoured (though not with frenzy), and one which I found, well, not among the most interesting. That being said, the quality throughout this volume is rather high (or I am getting mellow) and "City Lazarus" is absolutely worth a read. It is kind of a post-apocalyptic tale, like the previous novella, but in this case it's a look at New Orleans after the river has changed its course and no longer is the city's lifeblood. The story opens with a strong hook, and features a male protagonist who, and this is not the first time in this anthology, is kind of a dick. Sure, he's better than the other male character in the story, but I find myself wondering what kind of view these female authors have of men. It feels like, and I am exaggerating here perhaps, but I'm left with the feeling that all men are scumbags. There's been quite a few scumbags throughout this anthology, sexist man-pigs who cannot control their penises if their life depended on it. Perhaps more surprisingly, and this also turns up in "City Lazarus", is that so many of the women in the story are empowered by being sexually attractive. In this regard, Abercrombie's character Shy is perhaps one of the few where that bit doesn't feature. In the last stories, however, women are regarded mainly as sex objects or, as is the case with this story, women use sex to further their own agendas. Which, again, is a pretty depressive view of men and women.
Anyway, it's a nice gritty tale, combining a touch of post-apocalypse with romance and noir, which is inspiring but the story isn't very uplifting (not that I need a story to be uplifting, I am just saying). It was a little confusing at first, with names thrown about, but in the end the story is neatly tied together, there is almost a circular motif here, and the dialogue is good. Not among my favorites so far, then, but it is still rather refreshing to read some stories set in a non-high fantasy environment.

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