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Eating Memories
Patricia Anthony
Ace Books, 367 pages

Art: Carlos Alejandro
Eating Memories
Patricia Anthony
Patricia Anthony spent the 1970s travelling as an English professor with her then-husband and two children, and working at universities in Brazil and Portugal. Divorced in 1978, she settled in Dallas. There, she worked at The Dallas Morning News for 14 years while trying to get published and also taught creative writing at Southern Methodist University for three years. Her books include the non-SF book Flanders, along with Cold Allies (1993), Brother Termite (1993), Conscience of the Beagle (1993), Happy Policeman (1994), Cradle of Splendor (1996), God's Fires (1997) and Eating Memory (1997).   Titanic director James Cameron has optioned her second book, Brother Termite, as a possible feature film.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Flanders

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

No one who has kept up with Patricia Anthony's novels needs to be reminded of her amazing talent. For those who haven't had the pleasure, meet Ms. Anthony: quite simply one of the finest writers of our time. Begin your acquaintance with Eating Memories, a collection of her powerful short fiction from the last ten years. Then get busy on those novels.

Few authors have the ability to push our buttons like Anthony. Her stories range from hard science fiction, to social commentary, to political satire. The biggest surprises in this collection come in the form of two Victorian dramas and several jarring horror stories. "Dear Froggy" steps into the repressive existence of a Victorian wife who has a thirst for knowledge, and is married to a weak man who fears the disapproval of his "betters" more than the wrath of God. "Young Wives" provides another, more horrifying perspective on the classic vampire tale. Both inject more life into their characters than the bulk of works from that era, creating more human creatures amid the inhuman demands of the time.

Horror fans will be impressed with the unrelenting, heart-racing "The Murcheson Boy" -- as gory as anything the titans of dark fantasy ever produced. It is all the more disturbing for the instantaneous plunge into fear in the first paragraph. Never is there a chance to relax in the rural setting; enjoy the country on your own time, not within these covers. Expect more of the same tension in "The Deer Lake Sightings," and question the desirability of miracles. And cringe as your read the coarse, earthy "Two Bag Goddess." It's always best to end a book with one last drop on the roller coaster.

As brutal as some of the selections are, others speak of a sensitivity that runs straight to the heart, and the heart-breaking. Only the truly devoid of empathy will escape without a threat of tears in the scary possibility of a world full of "The Holes Where Children Lie." Read quickly, and you will barely have shaken that one off before suffering with the observer forced to watch the early end of life in "Guardian Of Fireflies." That is, if you weren't forced to rest after the emotional drain of "Good Neighbor," wherein two old friends share a quiet love and the relentless passing of time. The images of Billy, Maxie, and their gentle neighbour against the world die hard.

Of all these strong, stirring stories, it is an odd one that lingers long after you close the cover. On the surface, "Scavenger Hunt" seems a splendidly-crafted but straight-forward recognition and condemnation of blind, even subconscious, prejudice. If so,then why does it return again and again to be worried over in the reader's mind? Perhaps because no such story is ever straight-forward or completely external.

Twenty-eight stories. There is so much I've missed, but that leaves that much more to discover on your own. And only yourself to blame if you don't.

Copyright © 1998 Lisa DuMond

Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. She co-authored the 45th anniversary issue cover of MAD Magazine. Previews of her latest, as yet unpublished, novel are available at Hades Online.

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