Every woman knows this
This is the first collection of shorts from Laurel, and being a fan of her work after devouring Crossroads, I picked it up on pre-order, for it to arrive earlier this month on my kindle. Given that it’s Women of Horror month, and also that I know Laurel’s writing, it went straight to the top of my TBR and I read through it in a day.
Twelve of the twenty pieces contained here have been included in other collections, but of those, I had only previously read two, “Hooking up” from Slash-her and “The Bride wore black” from Burial day’s Gothic Blue Book VI – in which I also had a short featured. So, 18 new stories for me is pretty much a win-win.
The tone of the book is Feminist, I think it’s fair to say, and one gets the feeling that Hightower’s own experiences/opinions have been incorporated to a degree in the writing of pieces such as “Every woman knows this”, which blends metaphors of fishing against the stubbornness of men when prowling for women, or “Someone has to do it”, a great short which has a fantastic premise which leads to a comment on the usefulness of men left to their own devices. I’m highlighting Every Woman Knows This as one of my favorite shorts in the collection, and have to say that leading with that particular story was an excellent decision, Laurel. It set the mood and tone, and your voice just leapt from the page to attack the reader. Starman and Distress Call were also strong, but the whole collection is solid, finding favorites was thankfully hard.
The four shorts -Vignettes of Womanhood – originally included in the “We are wolves” anthology, give the feeling of flash prose, scattered throughout the book. They present themselves as observations from Laurel spoken directly to the reader. I tend to think of them collectively, and as statements, and freely admit that might just be my personal experience of them. I liked the “breaks” they created in the reading – as I said, it made the book feel more like a conversation.
My favorite of the collection is probably “The midwife”, I think the idea of some paranormal shadow-being stealing the cries of a mother giving birth, is just sublime. The presentation of the world in which that happens, that fear which the mother overcomes through the determination to birth her child whilst feeling her very screams being taken from her throat – well – how superb is that? The perspective from the being who does the collecting, afterward, was the icing on the cake of course, but the premise, the setup – it’s frankly outstanding and creepy as hell.
Though your heart is breaking frustrated the hell out of me – in a good way, and through my own incompetence, I wish to clarify. There is a song referenced in the short, a section of lyrics, or a hint at a section of lyrics, and I am absolutely certain the recognition of the song in question would reveal (through its title, lyrics, or general direction) a message to the reader, and I damn well couldn’t place it, Laurel. I’m one of those stubborn mules of a personality that wants to crack it on my own, I’m not going to google it, ask friends, etc. I’m going to let it stew, and one day I’ll open my eyes in the morning and it’ll be there, staring me in the face, and I’ll be able to let it rest. That lack of recognition though, grates. I’m generally better than that. I get things. I read between the lines.
So, yeah. This short annoyed the hell out of me.
Overall this gets 5 out of 5 creepy atmospheric and feminist ⭐ ‘s, and yes, I’m still frustrated, Laurel. May your whisky bottle leak until I figure the damn song out. I think if I have to suffer, you should too.
You can buy Every Woman Knows This, by clicking on the appropriate Amazon link, below:
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