Summer Shorts is a weekly feature on Dead Book Darling, reviewing great short stories every Saturday through July-August 2010.

Ode to Edvard Munch by Caitlin R. Kiernan
Caitlin’s Website / Goodreads / Librarything

Rating: 5 stars
Featured in: The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance

Thoughts: Ode to Edvard Munch is an elegant, literary story.  It may be only 10 pages long, but it felt epic.  Breathtaking, heartbreaking and all sorts of things I can barely describe.  Beautiful.  Terrifying.  Horrific. 

Kiernan is one the most artistic writers I have ever read.  She reminded me of one of my favourite authors, literary fiction writer Javier Marias – and that is certainly not a compliment a dole out lightly.  I’ve re-read this story a few times since I first picked it up, and each time I notice something new to swoon over.

All I can do is give you a sample of her style.  I spent most of this story drawing hearts around passages – here’s one of my favourites:

“This was the hall of my mother,” she says. And now I see the corpses, heaped high between the smoky braziers. They are nude, or they are half-dressed, or they’ve been torn apart so completely or are now so badly decomposed that it is difficult to tell whether they’re clothed or not. Some are men and others are women and not a few children. I can smell them even through the incense, and I might cover my nose and mouth. I might begin to gag. I might take a step back towards the stairs leading up to the long corridor and the bloodless desert night beyond. And she blinks at me like a hungry, watchful owl.

“I cannot expect you to understand,” she says.

I cannot explain or describe the plot of this story – if I tried I would only belittle its content.  I can tell you that it is narrated by a male pianist and features a female vampire who sits on benches in central park.  We never learn their names, and we certainly never see their relationship progress to anything I would call a “romance” – but with Kiernan, there’s no need.  They will remained etched in your memory because of it.

Bottom line?  Quite possibly the most beautiful piece of UF I have ever read.  Caitlin R. Kiernan has just jumped to the top of my MUST WORSHIP list.

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