Kathe Koja (The Cipher, Extremities) brings us 13 stories, 2 previously unpublished, in her new collection Velocities: Stories. In reading this collection, one thing becomes immediately clear: Koja is a master prose stylist. Like a fine restaurant, she provides an experience that is unlike any this reviewer has encountered. There is an urgent, restless, sometimes chaotic, energy to the writing that permeates every story, every sentence. Koja controls the experience with every word. And she creates so much wicked atmosphere, to the point, that even though sometimes I didn’t completely follow what I was reading, it didn’t matter, I was still happy to be there. If her stories had a color, to me it would be Cimmerian gray (with the occasional red accent). And this reviewer loves gray. Strong feelings of loss, fear, death and compromise haunt these characters and stories, and they stayed with me for a long time. My personal favorites in the collection included one of the new stories, “Marble Lily,” along with “At Eventide” and “Pas de Deux.” Although this was my first foray into Koja’s work, it will definitely not be my last. Highly recommended for readers who love dark fiction written in a literary style.
VELOCITIES: STORIES by Kathe Koja
RELEASE DATE: 4/21/20
GENRE: Collection / Dark Fantasy / Weird Fiction / Horror
From the award-winning author of The Cipher and Buddha Boy, comes Velocities, Kathe Koja’s second electrifying collection of short fiction. Thirteen stories, two never before published, all flying at the speed of strange. Dark, disturbing, heartfelt and utterly addictive.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathe Koja writes novels and short fiction, and creates and produces immersive fiction performances, both solo and with a rotating ensemble of artists. Her work crosses and combines genres, and her books have won awards, been translated, and optioned for film and performance. She is based in Detroit and thinks globally.
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From PAS DE DEUX by Kathe Koja
She liked them young, young men; princes. She liked them young when she could like them at all because by now, by this particular minute in time, she had had it with older men, clever men, men who always knew what to say, who smiled a certain kind of smile when she talked about passion, about the difference between hunger and love. The young ones didn’t smile, or if they did it was with a touching puzzlement because they didn’t quite see, weren’t sure, didn’t fully understand: knowing best what they did not know, that there was still so much to learn.
“Learn what?” Edward’s voice from the cage of memory, deep voice, “what’s left to learn?” Reaching for the bottle and the glass, pouring for himself. “And who’ll do the teaching? You?” That smile like an insect’s, like the blank button eyes of a doll made of metal, made from a weapon, born from a knife and see him there, pale sheets crushed careless at the foot of the bed, big canopied bed like a galleon inherited from his first wife—the sheets, too, custom-made sheets—all of it given them as a wedding present by his first wife’s mother: Adele, her name was and he liked to say it, liked to pretend—was it pretense?—that he had fucked her, too, going from mother to daughter in a night, a suite of nights, spreading the seed past four spread legs, and prim Alice could never compare, said Edward, with the grand Adele, Adele the former ballet dancer, Adele who had been everywhere, lived in Paris and Hong Kong, written a biography of Balanchine, Adele who wore nothing but black from the day she turned twenty-one, and “I don’t understand,” he would say, head back, knee bent, his short fat cock like some half-eaten sausage, “what you think you can teach me, aren’t you being just a little bit absurd?”
“We all have something to learn,” she said, and he laughed, left the room to return with a book, Balanchine & Me: Balanchine in color on the cover, a wee black-and-white of Adele on the back. “Read this,” putting the book into her hands. “Find out how much you don’t know.” Whiskey breath and settling back into bed, glass on his chest, big hairy chest like an animal’s, he liked to lie naked with the windows open, lie there and look at her, and “Are you cold?” he would say, knowing she was freezing, that her muscles were cramping. “Do you feel a draft?”
No, she could have said, or yes or fuck you or a million other responses, but in the end she had made none of them, said nothing, got out. Left him there in his canopied bed and found her own place, her own space, living above her studio: dance studio, she had been away for a long time but now she was back and soon, another month or two, she would have enough money maybe to keep the heat on all the time, keep the lights on, keep going. Keep on going: that was her word now, her world, motion at any cost. She was too old to be a dancer? had been away too long, forgotten too much, lost the fascistic grace of the body in torment, the body as a tool of motion, of the will? No. As long as she had legs, arms, a back to bend or twist, as long as she could move she could dance.
In the cold.
In the dark.