What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky
Though I want to talk about the book I read, how I came across it was interesting as well. Earlier this year Levar Burton Reads launched on Stitcher. Everyone who was a kid in the 80's should get a twinge of nostalgia at Levar Burton reading to them, but this show is aimed at adults. Levar Burton reads a short story usually by a well-known author and gives it an excellent audiobook treatment. That was where I heard the story, What it Means When A Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah.
It's a great short story that has hints of magical realism with a dash of science fiction. Like the best science fiction, it adds most of the world as touches of detail. Africa is the last continent not buried underwater, and Europeans have returned. These are little bits of flavor about someone who can find and cure someone's grief via mathematics. After the discovery of the theory of everything, math had become magic, allowing people with certain aptitudes to wield reality. People are protesting as a man didn't fly, putting the whole endeavor into question.
There aren't a lot of happy stories in this collection. Most of the stories are about the lives of women and focuses on aspects of the way that circumstance can make them tragic. The writing and stories are all very tonal in nature. You feel like you're being given a grim portrait of people's lives, and their circumstance. I won't lie the book was a bit of a slog, but it's well crafted, and the stories are thoughtful.
The craft here is what I really like. Every one of these stories works to pack every sentence with a meaningful detail. There aren't many writers that can work with this economy. I would really like to see what Arimah does with an entire novel, but this talent makes her perfect for short stories.