Not Here by Hieu Minh Nguyen
Published by Coffee House Press, 2018
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Written by a queer Vietnamese American, the poems in this collection are largely concerned with identity, trauma, and the painful journey towards acceptance – particularly when you feel othered by those who should love you most. There are a few absolute gems in here, particularly the final poem, Notes on Staying, but Nguyen’s poetic voice and array of styles didn’t always click with me, sadly.
You can pick up a copy of Not Here from Book Depository by clicking here.
A Burden Shared by Jo Walton
Published by Tor Books, 2017
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I love the concept of this short from Tor Books. Set in the near future, the successful development of pain transference allows people to literally carry the burden of someone else’s sickness on their behalf. We follow a mother who has spent the majority of her adult daughter’s lifetime shouldering the excruciating pain of her degenerative joint condition, allowing her to focus on establishing her own life and career. With impressive brevity, Walton is able to comment on both the selflessness and the folly of her heroine’s actions, the story reading in some ways like a cautionary tale about the dangers of ignoring your own health and happiness for the benefit of others.
This functions well as a short story, but even so I would have liked a little more emotional depth. It cut off very abruptly, just as the potential for some excellent character development was presented. Still, I was impressed by how many layers of a complex moral and medical issue Walton was able to touch on within the scope of such a small word count.
You can read A Burden Shared for free online by clicking here.