I seldom read short stories anymore, yet when I do, I wonder why not. They offer such an array of experiences. Jill Zeller’s The Sea is Coming is no exception. The book is a diverse collection of unusual and fascinating stories drawn from a variety of geographies, and featuring unique and often endearing characters.
The initial story, “Quilt of Seas,” is a complex and intriguing tale. Ramona, the young protagonist, is introduced to two mysterious women, Shirley and Greta, that inhabit Tower House on the Oregon coast. As Ramona becomes more acquainted, she discovers strange connections between them and her parents, and between a quilt Greta is sewing and the rising ocean. The story is full of such connections, some definitive, some only hinted at.
In “Electric Pathways to the Heart,” the reader encounters venomous plants, life-giving lightning, an ominous pharmaceutical company, and a woman protagonist with a skin disease that leaves her with maps on her skin.
A “Feast in Bataan” is one of my favorites. Set in the Philippines during the battle of Bataan, the story features two military nurses whose only relief from the horror of a battlefield hospital is attending sumptuous meals hosted by Mr. Hermosa, a wealthy Filipino. The story climaxes with an incredible plot twist.
The story “All My Nocturnal Days” is quirky to the core, and features Nyx, a quixotic, often spiteful goddess. The piece, which is primarily about Arthur and his lost daughter, plays with the concepts of night and day (light and dark), in a reflection of the title, Left-Hand, or in Latin, sinister hand, as opposed to dexter, or right hand.
“How She Makes Dragon Skin” is my favorite story in the collection. Jenn’s uncle, born with Harlequin ichthyosis (the second skin disease in this collection — interesting !!), dies as a child, only to be reborn as a tiny dragon with a curative sting. Terrific story!
Other stories in the collection introduce us to astronauts, sinister girl scouts, mysteriously missing cats, and more. The story “Neuron,” featuring a mage-like cat, and a budding romance, would have made O. Henry proud.
“The Left-Hand World” culminates the collection. It’s another complex and intriguing piece, with strong characters and a vast imaginative vision. One understands Dr. Andrew’s obsession with Lynne, and her time in Tysraina, a parallel world. The atmosphere of the story is full of latent, and potent, violence.
This is a collection one can pick up and put down at will, each story a short doorway into a unique and mysterious world.
Read a sample or buy it here: https://bookviewcafe.com/bookstore/book/stories-from-the-left-hand-world/
Paul S. Piper was born in Chicago a long time ago, and lived for extensive periods in Montana, Hawaii, and the Pacific Northwest. A retired librarian, he’s turned his life over to writing, traveling, and leisure. Paul has five published books of poetry, including Dogs and Other Poems (featured by Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry”), contributed to numerous anthologies, and co-edited several books of essays. His fiction largely explores the effect of politics and/or technology on nature.