Johnny and Emmie-Lou

I started my reading of the BFSA Award nominees in the short story section. I chose to begin with Johnny and Emmie-Lou Get Married by Kim Lakin-Smith. It’s a quick read, so you might want to give it a perusal before continuing this post. I’ll endeavor not to reveal too much, but whenever you discuss someone’s work, spoilers are inevitable.

I’m not quite sure how to come at this story. I found it well fleshed-out, with the history and motivations of the characters well written and clear. In fact, I found the general tone and quality of the writing to be excellent, especially when she’s discussing the relationships between the characters. The dialogue is great and the lingo they use has a very ’50s flavor. Since I’m not as familiar with the terms of the time, I’m not sure whether she created her own style or borrowed it from the era, but it reads very clearly and instantly gives the characters an added depth.

Despite all that, I never quite felt fully sucked into the story. I found the descriptions to be a little too detailed. Although that’s mostly a stylistic quibble, I also found that the vehicle descriptions didn’t seem to quite fit with the tone of the story. They were also the only place where her actual sentences threw me, making go back and read again to make sure I understood. The ending also left me a little cold since it didn’t seem to flow naturally with the rest of the narrative.

I can see why this story was included in this list. It’s different – at least from what I’ve read – and has a compelling set of ideas. It’s not quite my cup of tea, but I’m sure a lot of people will devour something like this whole.

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