“The Flounder’s Kiss” Michael Cadnum
Found in Black Swan, White Raven edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Avon Books, 1997, also available via Kindle.
This is a short story that is clearly written by a man. Not to say that women can’t compose plenty of misogynistic type stories, but there was something about the tone of the interaction between the husband and the wife that was so enmeshed in gender norms. This is something that many traditional fairy tales are, of course, filled with. None of which is to say that I disliked the story. I actually very much enjoyed it. The writing is beautifully descriptive and captivating. It’s quite the ode to various fish and fishing.
As with many short stories, this is all about the twist at the end, in this case on the trope of the magic wish giving fish. I found the twist at the end, which I won’t spoil beyond to say it cries out to the Little Mermaid, a fantastic trickster element for such a short piece. The emotional distress the fisherman undergoes in a few shot pages from the stress that the magical situation has placed on him is well evoked and one can’t blame him for the choice that he makes, even if his wife is a totally undeveloped fairy tale trope of a greedy shrew of a wife. But, the language and the comeuppance make it totally worth while to read this particular story.
Plot – 5/5 Character – 3.5/5 Thought – 4.5/5 Diction – 5/5
Music – 4/5 Spectacle – n/a