Sabrina And Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, 2014
The magic trick:
Heavy dose of fatalism
We’re beginning a week of stories from the excellent Sabrina And Corina collection by Kali Fajardo-Anstine.
The stories, with maybe one exception, are set in Colorado. They nearly all – maybe without exception – feature young female protagonists, most of whom are struggling to reconcile their present and past into some kind of coherent identity.
With so many similarities, the stories play very well together as a collection, one theme playing into the next. Highly recommended.
So we start with the title track. Great story and a great table-setter for what the rest of the book explores.
Sabrina and Corina are cousins who grow up together. Only one year apart, they are close as children, but differences in their temperaments lead to a gradual split.
The story deals with an immense amount of fatalism. Again, it’s characteristic of the entire collection, with many stories draped in death and sadness.
We learn on page one of “Sabrina And Corina” that Sabrina has died. So as the story bounces back and forth between Corina grieving in the present and memories of the cousins together from the past, every single sentence hits hard with tragedy.
And that’s quite a trick on Fajardo-Anstine’s part.
“We were inseparable in high school. Sabrina was my best friend, my closest cousin. My father would give me a hard time, ask if I ever tired of carrying her deadweight, but Sabrina was fun. She was vivid and felt everything deeply, from heartbreak to the drunken nights we stayed up until 4:00 a.m., mapping out our tiny lives with enormity only Sabrina could imagine. To her, everything was possible – money, true love, a way out of Colorado. Even after she dropped out in eleventh grade to work at a sports bar downtown, I used to do homework in a back booth, marveling at the way she glided between tables, sleek and fluid with her long hair curled around her elegant neck. Men would follow her between their bites of onion rings and beer-battered fish, insatiable, as if my cousin was just another symptom of their hunger.
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