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The Curandero and the Swede: A Tale from the 1001 American Nights: 04/04/09
The first story in the March issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine (yes, I know, it's already April!) has left me grumpy. It's a pair of magical realism stories set in the American south west but framed by a Joseph Conrad-esque narration during a night when a man is trying to introduce his fiance to his family. I can't even begin to explain how much I detest stories that use extended multi paragraph quotes of stories told through not one but two narrators (the one listening and the one telling). It is an awkward way to tell a story.
There's first the man who takes Abby the fiance to meet his family. Apparently how they met and why a southern boy is dating a Yankee is a "long story" but fuck if I know what it is because he never tells us.
No instead we have to "listen" to his crazy Uncle tell two completely unrelated stories, first about a truck driver on the old route 666 who comes across a Navajo ghost out for revenge and how he talks her out of it. The second story is about a black man named Swede who goes to a Curandero for help with these weird moving bumps all over his body. His cure involves a third story involving a young pregnant girl who has to perform a ritual in front of the red virgin and the story behind the virgin's creation.
By themselves these are all interesting stories. Brought together in this mishmash of over heard tall tales does not work. It's a literary train wreck. I hope the rest of the issue is better.