A good short story is not just a shorter version of the novel. Rather, it is something fluid – which exists both before and after the written version, both for the characters and, importantly, the reader. Whether the story is contemporary or historic, science fiction or fantasy, it should have readers eagerly turning the page, caught up in both action and emotion. Then, when it is finished, it should leave the reader thinking.
The ten stories in Black Juice achieve these criteria with aplomb. Each story captivates, even as it has the reader squirming with its ruthlessness, its glimpse into deep and dark human nature. Author Margo Lanagan makes the short story form her own, using it to provide extraordinary perspectives and insights.
Each story is unique, but the commonality which binds is the deliberate use of settings and situations which are unfamiliar, yet contain stories which reveal many familiar truths of humankind.
Lanagan’s stories are sure to be used in literature classrooms, but are also likely to find many fans among adult readers, who will find themselves unable to put the volume down.
Black Juice, by Margo Lanagan
Allen & Unwin, 2004