Re: Skin Folk

Once upon a time, I read In The New Moon’s Arms , and I liked it so much, I decided to track down more Nalo Hopkinson. I found what I was looking for in her short story collection, Skin Folk. Magic and folk tale elements turn up in many of the stories. The stories are told an impressive ranges of voices — from Caribbean lilt to North-American standard to impenetrably artsy — with such effortless ease you’re not even startled by it. Though my favorites lean more to the folktale side,  when sex turns up there’s no turning away from it.

“Tan-Tan and Dry Bone” uses a tale about Anansi. I liked its creepiness and its language, even though I haven’t read the original. Dry Bone is wonderfully evil: when you pick him up, you pick up trouble.

“The Glass Bottle Trick” is filled with images of eggs trapped in bottles. A couple of those bottles are hanging on a bottle tree, something I first stumbled on here, of all places. (I think. ) The young wife in the story, newly pregnant, needs to find out which story she’s trapped in before the spirits in those bottles get out.

“Greedy Choke Puppy” includes both a Lagahoo, a donkey spirit that heralds death, and a soucouyant, a women of all fire inside who devours the fresh life of babies. It all twists together in a poignant ending.

Sparked by a child’s definition of the skeleton, “Something to Hitch Meat To” sets its hero on a bizarre odyssey where he sees people’s bodies as not being quite right. this would make a good animated short, with its weird imagery and a guest appearance by Anansi.

There are some are more science fiction stories, too, though the only one I liked was “A Habit of Waste”. In an amusing opening, the narrator is confronted with someone wearing her old, cast-off body. She used to be a sturdy black girl from Trinidad, but she saved up her nickels and switched to skinny white girl.  Now she has to deal with what’s she done.

A good mix.