Aspic by Tatyana Tolstaya, 2016
The magic trick:
Using a new year’s cooking tradition as a metaphor for life, death and the burying of the past
Happy New Year!
We start the new year with a story about new year dining. Or is it?
This one reminds me a lot of Jamaica Kincaid in its emphasis on the lyrical and symbolic over plot, not to mention the use of second-person narration. I have to be honest, I’m not sure I grasp all of the metaphor that is happening here. I do very much like the feeling I got about two paragraphs in when I connected the dots enough to say, ‘Wow, yeah, every new year is really just a chance to bury ghosts and do our best to forget.’ Intense but interesting. And that’s quite a trick on Tolstaya’s part.
None of them are really dead: that’s the conundrum. There is no death. They are hacked apart, mutilated; they won’t be walking anywhere, or even crawling; they’ve been killed but they are not dead. They know that you’ve come for them.
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