BOOK STEW REVIEW: ‘Elsewhere’ by Alexis Schaitkin

Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, host of the long-running Book Stew, a video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, authors, playwrights, and even a cat who survived a tornado and wrote a book about it.

Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin

This is a mysterious, cloudy, and compelling fantasy, by the author of the fantastic debut novel “Saint X.”

Here, Shirley Jackson’s classic short story “The Lottery” is transferred to a hidden German mountain community, where mothers disappear for no apparent reason. Rituals abound after each woman is gone — the distribution of her worldly goods by the women, and the burning of any photos of her by the men.

Narrator Vera, whose mother is gone, grows into a lovely marriage and an intense motherhood, and then disappears, of her own free will. She takes us with her in the aftermath, and we find out where she ends up and follow her through her life, if the ritual leave-taking by the other mothers is voluntary or unworldly.

It’s disconcerting for the reader to be left to the make the determination, both the writing is an absorbing combination of the poetic and the harsh, and the book could easily, maybe should, be reread, to fully fathom the secrets within.

QUOTE: “You do not get to keep what is sweetest to you; you only get to remember it from the vantage point of having lost it.”

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