Black Juice by Margo Lanagan

Oh Margo, I love you. You are in a class of your own when it comes to writing compelling stories that tug and tug and TUG at your heart. And stories that say so much in so few words. This was my first time reading your short stories and I can now proudly tell everyone that Tender Morsels was most definitely not a fluke. Ms. Lanagan can do no wrong…when it comes to writing at least :p I’ve talked to her a few times on twitter but don’t know her THAT well :p I can however tell you that from what I do know of her she’s an amazing person as well.

Black Juice is a collection of short stories that’s worth it just for the first story alone. “Singing my Sister Down” is a story that may just send you through a whole box of tissue. I cried my eyes out reading it. About a young girl being punished for her crimes by being sunk into a tar pit slowly while her family bids her farewell. It’s not just the writing and the story that’s beautiful and wrenching, but the WAY Lanagan tells the story. The sweetness of it, the wrongness of it all, the horror of it, the utter despair of it. The being unable to stop everything. Yes, I may have screamed “make it stop” at the page…..maybe…

But it doesn’t stop….she continues to make you think and make you feel with the remaining 9 stories. “Sweet Pippit” was another beautiful story…so beautiful. It takes a look at elephants like they’ve never been looked at before as they go in search of the young boy, Pippit, who once cared for them. God, I’m getting emotional again just thinking of that story.

And then there’s “Yowlinin”, another sort of dystopian story that I absolutely loved. What I love about a story like this is that it’s a very action based story as in there are killer beetles flying around, but at the same time, it’s a very personal story too. Something that I’m sure is not easy to write, much less write as well as she does.

This is one of my new favorite short story collections. Right up there with Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors and trust me…that’s saying a lot for me to put someone in the same ranks as he is to me, lol. Read it. Enjoy it. Expect more from your stories after reading it.

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10 Responses

  1. I only read the first story, Singing My Sister Down and I agree, it’s heart-wrenching and beautiful and memorable.

  2. I read Tender Morsels last Spring, and while not as effusive toward dear Margo as you, I did enjoy it. One of the many things I like about you, Chris, is your passion for fantasy/science fiction creates a spark for me. How fun, by the way, that you have ‘tweeted’ with her. I see that Margaret Atwood often sends out Tweets, and I so admire her for being that current, not to mention involved, with her audience.

  3. Oh Chris, I think I hate you right now. 😦 (Okay, you know I don’t really–just pulling out the melodrama card.) But seriously, you’ve made me want to go pull this off the shelf. So. Badly. Right. This. Minute. *sigh* And you know I can’t because I have so many other reading “obligations” at the moment. *sigh* I cannot wait for the school year to be over. *sigh*
    Anyway, I am so glad you loved it so much. 🙂

  4. I almost couldn’t read the rest of this collection because the first story was SO good. This book is amazing, though. I loved almost every single one of the stories.

  5. I haven’t read any of her stuff yet, and I’m beginning to think that’s a crime!

  6. I so agree. And the first two you mentioned are the stand out stories for me in this collection as well. I read this book (checks blog) back in 2007 and I loved those two then. haven’t gotten around to rereading them, but they are stories that have always stayed with me.

    Have you read her Touching the earth lightly. Oh, it is heart-breaking, but wonderful.

    (Andi, it is a crime!)

  7. I am not a good short story person, but what i like about reading reviews is the joy others get in books that I myself might not like…
    don’t forget to post this for OUaT..I think people are forgetting to post their reviews or not reviewing..the list is usually much longer then it is.

  8. I am now working my way through Margo Lanagan’s short story collections after reading, and thoroughly enjoying Yellowcake (I reviewed it recently on my blog if you are interested). Now, I am definitely a ML fan, and can’t wait to read her future releases, and I guess I need to get to Tender Morsels soon.

  9. Oooo, I’m so torn. It sounds so wonderful, but I’m way emotional :/ Great review!! I’m sooo tempted 😀

  10. Ooh, I’m glad you enjoyed this! I just got Tender Morsels out from the library and am excited to read it once I finish my current book. I saw the library *also* has Black Juice, but I don’t think I have time to read it before I leave for the summer. However, it’s so good to know that it’s such a good book 🙂

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