Sunday, June 9, 2019

'Mocking Season, by Christi Clancy

"'Mocking Season," by Christi Clancy, in Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy, Akashic Press, 2019.

The publisher sent me an advance reading copy of this book.

This is a disturbing story, and I mean that as a compliment.  Here is how it starts:

Back when there were still trees in Whitefish Bay, the boys started sleeping in the hammocks they hung from them.

All sorts of things are foreshadowed in that simple sentence.

Whitefish Bay is apparently a pleasant bit of suburbia until it disturbed by the arrival of Erin, who we might perhaps call a middle-aged hippy.  She lived in the one home that was not visible from the street, which disturbs the keepers of community norms, "the mothers," who feel that "It didn't seem right to live where you couldn't be seen."

More importantly, her son Leif was so charismatic that all the boys in the neighborhood start to copy him - including 'mocking, or sleeping outdoors in hammocks.  They also take up marimba, an instrument at which Leif is expert.

But what disturbs the mothers even more is that Erin lets her yard run wild.  While everyone else is battling bugs and weeds with ever increasing doses of of chemicals, she listens to her boyfriend Cody, a horticulturalist who takes a more organic route.  This leads to conflict which leads to, well. other things.

You may say that the reactions of some of the characters are unrealistic, but that is precisely what makes the story so disturbing.   It reminded me of a certain novel and a certain short story, but that would be giving away too much.

A fine story.

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