book review: floating in my mother’s palm

I read Ursula Hegi’s book about postwar Germany, Floating in My Mother’s Palm, because of the story within it called The Dogs of Fear. This was the story Holly told me about when I was talking about how much I enjoyed the Machine of Death anthology. In the story a man has terrible dreams about dying in a meadow, so he buys a pack of dogs to protect him and then he finds the meadow and stops dreaming about it. Eventually he’s torn apart by his pack of dogs. It almost could have been a Machine of Death story except for its “literariness.”

I like reading a book like this, with its delicacy and narrow focus, especially after reading a lot of science fiction or the like. It’s so focused on recounting “realistic” events and talking about specific details with such minor inflections of plot, it’s a refreshing genre change. And it becomes easier to recognize it as a genre itself, not some pure archetype of fiction that mysteries or romances fail to measure up to, but a genre with its own specific and arbitrary conventions. Not that that’s a bad thing.

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