I always felt bad for the Cassandra of Greek myth. She knew what was going to happen but is cursed to never be believed. If only the Trojans had listened! The resentment and frustration she must have felt pour out in the first story out of the gate in Gwen E. Kirby’s electrifying collection, Shit Cassandra Saw. The stories here are full of things that people wish they could say. It’s a lot of fun to watch the sparks fly.
Some of the standouts in this collection are:
“Jerry’s Crab Shack: One Star” – I love stories in which the narrator is trying to write something for others but can’t stop themselves from revealing everything that’s bothering them. Here, our narrator is ostensibly trying to write up a review about a place where the service was terrible and the food never actually arrived. Each part of the review, however, ends up being full of his complaints about his angry wife, having to relocate to a city where he doesn’t know anyone, and his frustration about being marginalized. It’s a deliciously multi-layered story.
“A Few Normal Things that Happen a Lot” – I relished reading this story. It’s composed of small scenes that start to fit together into a narrative about women who suddenly have the strength to fight back against cat-callers, harassers, and abusers. It’s not long before a lot of men start to walk more quietly and keep their comments to themselves. Kirby also sneaks in a very subtly twist to #NotAllMen that was utterly brilliant.
“Mt. Adams at Mar Vista” – This story was perhaps the most poignant in the collection. The girls of the Mt. Adams softball team are playing the team from Mar Vista, which has recently experienced a school shooting. The adults see it as a return to normalcy. The students feel as though things are anything but normal. The story takes us into the collective swirl of their thoughts about what to say, what they can say, their own worries, how they’re going to get through the game, whether they should throw the game, and on and on. It’s amazing what Kirby is able to pack into just a few pages.
This is an excellent, lightning-fast read that leaves you with plenty of ideas to think about.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.