‘Aspic’ by Tatyana Tolstaya


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.

The selection:

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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3 thoughts on “‘Aspic’ by Tatyana Tolstaya

  1. after this incredibly traumatic year, that story hits a little differently. like, it hits with a sigh followed by an OOF. not that everything’s about to change just because we rolled into a new calendar year, but it’s a little hopeful knowing that we’ve all been trying to silence the clacking hooves and stifle the sobbing, together. out with the old! thanks, Ben. happy new year!

  2. Pingback: Reading Notes, 1/11/21 : BoB Wrap-Up | The Writerly Reader

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