Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Blue Fairy and other tales of transcendence by Ernest Dempsey

Ernest Dempsey opens his short story collections with a moving dedication to his Aunt Farahana, who passed away in November 1992. Her passing had a profound effect on Dempsey, as familiar to him today as it was 17 years ago. His description of her influence on his life literally moved me to tears.

Dempsey has collected several short stories he has penned over the years, to put into the collection entitled The Blue Fairy and other tales of transcendence. He takes a look at death from many points of view.

Some are told in the first person, almost seemingly like he is literally telling about someone he knew in real life. Others are third-person looks inside the troubled mind of one who is dealing with death. Stories are about the loss of a child, impending death from illness, and mysterious people floating in and out of one's life.

On occasion, a story would leave me wanting for more. Either I didn't understand the point, or felt that the point was lacking. I frequently find this to be the case when reading a short story collection by an author, as well as when rereading some of my own short stories. Sometimes, a story would seem like it was trying too hard to be deep. Again, I think it is a common issue in short story collections.

Luckily, the more that I read, the more I was drawn into the stories, the more I was able to understand them, and the more I was able to emotionally feel connected to some of them. I am particularly drawn to stories of the loss of a child or a sibling, as I feel like I can relate to those best after losing a baby cousin some years ago.

"Recreating Stone" was particularly painful to read, as it is a story of unrequited love that is lost forever. Here, I can see the parallels drawn between Dempsey and his 19th century counterparts, referenced by other reviewers.

I also found ones like "Just a Kilometer" to be reminiscent of a Stephen King short story. A man is shot far away from civilization, and is striving to find his way back to the love of his life, despite the bleeding and the pain. Stephen King has been one of my favorite authors for the last 20-plus years, and I enjoy finding well-written stories within the same genre.

Short story collections should never be read in one sitting, as each piece is designed to stand on its own. The same holds true of The Blue Fairy. It also should only be read when the reader is in a mood that can accommodate darker stories without being thrust into an emotional depression. Stories such as Dempsey's have the potential of striking a chord deep within, especially if one has experienced a similar situation.

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Andrea Coventry is a book reviewer for

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