By-Line: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing
Published by: Tachyon Publications
ISBN 13: 9781616962401
Published: November 2016
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
This is, as the by-line says, a collection of stories, essays and other writing (such as poems). We start off with a poem titled Muse, about fishhooks in the fingers of gloves that embed themselves a little more with every keystroke, and it’s beautiful.
From there we have the first short story, about a girl who, instead of the lower half of her legs, has neurocircuitry. She’s come to Pakistan as one of the runners (as the taxi driver oh so cleverly works out), in a futuristic version of the Paralympics. It’s hard hitting and interesting, character-driven like Beukes does best, and the perfect start to the collection.
Each part in the collection after this is totally different, and yet utterly enthralling and manages to keep you reading though the easy way you slip into each narrative. Usually when there’s huge changes in short story to short story I usually need a break, but this collection works perfectly at holding you down to devour the first half easily within an hour – or until dinner interrupts you, at least.
Being Beukes, hard topics are described and explored, and being Beukes one can easily trust in the author to be both sensitive, intelligent and eloquent throughout.
The non-fiction shows us work that Beukes did as a journalist, and it’s amazingly good – I’m picky with my non-fiction and either struggle through each paragraph or can’t put it down, and this was the latter.
In this collection, though it’s sometimes hard to see through the grit and the grime and the grim nature of the narrative, there is still hope and determination and people ready to struggle for what’s right. And that’s what makes this collection so damn powerful.