Genevieve Valentine’s “Armless Maidens of the American West”

Here’s the story Armless Maidens of the American West.

This review is spoiler-free. It is, therefore, terribly nonspecific as to details. Such is the bargain.

Oh my goodness gracious, Genevieve Valentine can write a story. My goodness, yes she can write.

I knew this when I read her novel, Mechanique. (I recommend it to you, it’s quite good. Frightening, depressing, hopeful, confusing, straightforward, blunt, and nuanced. Very good, as I said.) But it’s clear to me that this talent for writing is not a one-of, not a fluke.

(Isn’t that just the way of art, you know? You do it once, and then, and then, can you do it again? Can you do it again, more of the same? Can you do it again, but differently this time? Are you an artist, or a one-trick pony, or was that one trick not really even that impressive? Ms. Valentine can stop worrying. I promise.)

Armless Maidens of the American West is:

1) an excellent work of technical writing,

2) a deepening of folktale and the uses to which folklore is put,

3) a nuanced, gentle, and raw portrait of life in towns that aren’t important to anyone but the inhabitants, and

4) a character study that is an accusation, an indictment, and a forgiveness of the reader’s complicity in the story as a work of art.

Go ye forth and read.



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