Sarah Hall is mostly known for her novels and The Beautiful Indifference is her first set of short stories.
I liked them mostly.
she opens the book with Butcher’s perfume, a story of a normal girl who gets wound up with a savage family. It is full of ancient superstition, horse whispering and general naughtiness. The family that the main character gets involved with are outwardly aggressive yet they show great moments of gentleness towards their family members and the main character when she eventually becomes aligned with their circle. They also loves animals, especially so that any human that hurts their animals pay for it. It is bound to end in violence and it does.
The next story Beautiful Indifference gives us a welcome break from the vile story before it. It is one of those stories that female authors often write about, a woman and their body, the feminine themes. An older lady with her younger, energetic lover. The theme of animals and beasts come through towards the end and the ending reminds me of a certain Irish writer, Kevin Barry. “The hills were around her. She took up her purse, opened the car door and stepped into them. It was like opening a book.” Hope I haven’t ruined it for you.
Bees, I didn’t like because it describes bees in far too much detail for me! The agency didn’t work for me either. I felt I had read this before or something.
She murdered mortal me is a perfect short story for me. It starts with a girlfriend having a big fight with her boyfriend while on holiday in South Africa and the landscape pulses alongside the telling of the girl;s story as she walks away through the jungle and its possible danger. An animal she meets on the way ties the ending in brilliantly and this is a story that you will have to go back and read again to make sure that is what the ending was about.
The Nightlong River is a beautifully told story, again capturing the landscape as the atmosphere to the sad characters within it. Vuotjarvi scared the hell of me, mostly because we never find out what happens really but it is the imaginary that scares most.
I really enjoyed these stories, all very much different characters and settings but with a full-on theme of landscape, animals and humans, we are left trying to breath for air.
Should I get it? Yes!