Come here, cher, and I tell you a story.
The opening lines of “The Fiddler of Bayou Teche,” by Delia Sherman establish an intimate narrative voice, so clear you can hear her speaking inside your head. Better yet, read it out loud.
Cadence is an albino girl who lives out in the swamp with her Tante Eulalie and the loup-garous. She tells several little tales about herself and her world. Then ‘Dres Petitpas himself shows up at the halfway point, and he is no mere story to laugh at. He tricked a man out of his father’s violin. He has plans for his sons, like who they will marry and who they will be. And like a proper villain, he entertains delusions of grandeur.
He draws Cadence into a bet he has made. Just as it seems that he has won, she makes her own challenge to him, and turns the tables. It’s so satisfying to see her deal out his comeuppance.
Despite the fairy-tale tone, there’s barely any fantastic element. We never actually see the loup-garous turn into wolves. Cadence’s endurance is presented so matter of factly, it seems almost reasonable.
Just a wonderful story.
Tomorrow: Play me a song.