(Elastic Press, £5.00, 143 pages, paperback, published January
This is a quiet, unpretentious first collection of stories by Kay Green.
It brings together fifteen of her short stories written over as many
years. The nod to Carl Jung in the title, cover blurb and epigraph is
rather misleading. (There is
little that is distinctively Jungian in this collection and at least
one of the stories seems to owe more to Freud than Jung.) Nevertheless,
these stories are awash with symbolism and dreamlike twists to normal
The collection begins well with 'Mokey' -- a tale in which a split
personality is knit together again not by psychoanalysis but by witchcraft.
As well as being one of the better written stories in the collection,
'Mokey' also does a good job of setting out the recurring themes of
Three of the stories ('Time to Learn', 'Love Hurts' and 'Internal Combustion')
contain clear science fictional elements. However, these always remain
incidental to Green's main interests in psychological and gender issues.
None of these forays into the fringes of science fiction seemed to work
The same might be said of her one attempt to write a traditional fantasy.
'Glorious Peace' is brutal and depressing; its characters are little
more than ciphers; and it contains one of the least convincing fictional
prophecies I have ever had the misfortune to read.
The use and abuse of magic is a recurring theme in these stories. In
'Facing the Dark' Green plays with the symbolism of tarot cards and
a pact with the devil. What she produces is a dark tale overburdened
with symbolism and characters. 'Old Magic in a New Age' is a cautionary
tale about the dangers of New Age magic from the perspective of a woman
brought up as a traditional wiccan who concludes by thanking the Goddess
'for a last-minute deliverance from New Age serfdom'.
Several of the stories are hard to classify beyond the fact that they
all demonstrate Green's ability to offer new perspectives to her readers.
For example, 'Good Mother Gosse' begins with a refreshing take on the
folk character of Mother Goose and segues into reflections from a pantomime
Dame before, sadly, losing itself in obscurity. Another offering of
this kind, 'Dispensers', is more of a vignette than a story, expanding
on the title as a description of parents as seen from the perspective
of an infant. 'The Eye of the Beholder' explores the gaze of the other.
The gaze of a lover upon a young woman evokes the passion within her.
In 'Newman's Bible', she offers an alternative reading of the Adam
and Eve myth in which they, rather than God, are the creators. Indeed
it is Adam who creates God from clay (shades of Feuerbach and Freud
rather than Jung). Suddenly in the concluding paragraphs this story
is revealed as the work of one A.A. Newman who is attempting to write
a new Bible and who appears to be pathologically afraid of vampires
(why else the cross, the stake-like pencils and the garlic-oil on the
door- and window-frames?).
Religion is also central to 'Challenging Myth'. This time a young prince
and an old man meet under a (bo?) tree. No prizes for guessing who they
are. When their conversation is over the young man is the tree is the
snake is the old man is the earth.
'Butterfly Wings' is at least three stories in one. The butterfly wings
of the title are presumably the mythical butterfly wings in an Amazonian
rainforest that, according to chaos theory, can cause a hurricane half
way around the world. In this case, three slightly changed beginnings
lead to three very different fates for Bekir, the protagonist of the
The collection concludes with 'Circaidy Gregory', a green morality
tale. While the story itself is quite well told, I'm afraid the moral
limps badly, namely, that our response to the economic forces driving
the environmental crisis should be one of 'knowledgeable disregard'.
Kay Green has some good ideas and, overall, she writes well. Unfortunately,
too much of the time she allows her fascination with symbolism and complex
structures to overwhelm character and storytelling.