The Doll’s Alphabet, the upcoming short story collection by Camilla Grudova, was something completely different from anything I have encountered recently. These stories, thirteen in total, are dark and eerie with some sort of childlike quality about them; they are almost fairytale like in nature; each story sending a message and all provoking caution. I was bewildered while I was reading. I found myself continuously pondering that perhaps I wasn’t smart enough to “get” these stories and spending the rest of my time thinking “Wait…WHAT??!”
This short story collection felt like something I would have studied in university; filled with motifs and symbolism, I really liked how Grudova took several political stances throughout and discussed feminism. Very much like the Southern Gothic style of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Conner, these stories read like they came from a different time period. Unstitching, the short but powerful opening story begins with women literally “unzipping” and coming out of their skin. It is only then that they feel liberated and the men are outraged to see their women so unhinged. Does this make sense? Nope! Do I think it is pretty awesome? Absolutely.
That question ran through my mind constantly as I was reading. Does this make sense? Does this make sense? What about this makes sense? And, truly, none of her stories really do. They are purely whimsical and fantastic calling on dollhouses and mermaids and talking spiders. This magic realism is something I am not used to but found really interesting during the time I was reading.
Usually, I like a short story collection because I can read it slowly and pick it up when I feel like it, but, with The Doll’s Alphabet, I found myself reading fairly quickly.
Overall, I found this collection intriguing and dynamic.