I picked up Helen Oyeyemi’s short story collection, What is Not Yours is Not Yours, just before Christmas. I love short stories – particularly ones that dip their toes into magical realism – and having finished Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber (…for the third time…), I was on the prowl for something new. Can’t lie, I was half drawn-in by the cover – it’s a beautiful looking book – and when the blurb on the back promised me “a collection of towering imagination, marked by baroque beauty and a deep sensuousness” I was sold and snapped it up. (Baroque!)
From the back: “The stories collected in What is Not Yours is Not Yours are linked by more than the exquisitely winding prose of their creator… The reader is invited into a world of lost libraries and locked gardens, of marshlands where the drowned dead live and a city where all the clocks have stopped; students hone their skills at puppet school, the Homely Wench Society commits a guerrilla book swap, and lovers exchange books and roses on St Jordi’s Day.”
Sounds amazing, right? Yeah.
Unfortunately for me, I spent the whole book feeling like I was locked out of it and didn’t have a key to get in. Don’t get me wrong, Helen Oyeyemi’s prose is beautiful at times, but despite that I just couldn’t seem to connect with either the characters or the stories unfolding in front of me. I found myself getting confused a lot and having to flick back to see if I’d missed something, only to find I was still out there on the doorstep. It’s a shame; so much of what I wanted and what I like as a reader was right there in front of me, but none of it was digestible or recognisable. Like doughnuts served up in a blender. Oh well. 😦
Have you read anything lately that you thought was going to be amazing but ended up disappointing you?