Stirring the Mirror by Christine Boyka Kluge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An ethereal look into the mirror. Ghostly and inescapable. I first caught a glimpse of these reflections years ago when I stumbled across Christine Boyka Kluge's work in the online magazine Diagram. I was impressed by her dexterous use of language, the clever (but not "twee") turn of phrase, and the ability to hang dark, weighty implications behind light, flowing language. In fact, I was impressed enough that I asked her to submit work for my anthology Text:UR, The New Book of Masks. All of her works that I published in Text:UR are present in this collection, along with a diamond mine of scintillating literature. Somewhere between poetry and prose, Kluge's little fictions are bulging with infinity between the words, straining to burst out upon the world, but held back by the author's deft and subtle hand, inviting the reader to reach out with her or his mind in order to grasp the implications behind the text, rather than spoon-feeding blatant plot to the reader's eyes.
The imagery of these fictions is layered and rich, as in "Funnel Cloud":
Like a gargantuan screw, the black cloud carves its way through the miniature landscape. A wheat field uncoils like pencil shavings; crows and shingles scatter like graphite dust. Holsteins, hens, and a swayback mare spiral inside the wind's embrace, then plunge like darts into the orchard.
But the work in Stirring the Mirror isn't about image alone. Kluge has a gift for portraying emotion in a deliciously grim sort of way. Take, for instance, the opening lines of "Jar of Bees":
He stored his anger like a swarm of killer bees in a baby food jar, then hid the jar in the musty dumbwaiter at his core. The passageway under his ribs was dark and drafty, echoing with a warning buzz. Black static surrounded the space once occupied by an incandescent heart.
Links to some of Kluge's work appear at her blog. But to get the full immersive effect of her work, I strongly recommend buying yourself a copy of Stirring the Mirror and walking through these typographical veils that hide worlds. Strongly recommended!
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