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Sunday, January 12, 2014

"Hunger Artist" by Lisa Mannetti

Appeared in Zippered Flesh 2.

Of the two tales of Mannetti I've read (the other, "Corruption", will appear here), this one has the more powerful core.A young woman and her sister voluntarily submit themselves to one of the many fads going on around the early twentieth century--a "rest cure" where participants subject themselves to a broth diet and scalding enemas. It turns out that the whole thing is a sham, to confuse the women and have them give or sign over fortunes, but by the time they realize that something fishy is going on, they're too weak too protest.

The perspective from the hundred and two year old woman is nice although I wonder if it could have been better utilized (why then? why this reporter?)--which might have resolved the meandering opening. Maybe the 102-year-old's vantage isn't necessary and you could start with the trial. Maybe 102-year-old's POV is intended to convey that a delusion instilled long ago still persists--a really cool theme if intended--although that's not yet clear. The ending might have been stronger if it had been better prepared for.

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