21 February 2008

Richard's "Memorial Day"

This is the last of the stories in Charity, a collection which I thoroughly enjoyed. It is a shame that he has not published more. His writing is very much of a Southern Gothic cast, but it's neat to see how he plays with both elements (Southern, Gothic) of that tradition using his own particular style. Sometimes, one is reminded of other authors, from Melville to Lovecraft, but always told in Richard's great style. If he ever chose to write horror stories, I would be eager to read them.

Though Death himself makes an appearance in "Memorial Day," it is not a horror story. It is, like a lot of Richard's stories, a story of people making do in marginal circumstances. For several days, a little boy shoos Death away from the little house where his brother lies sick, delirious. The local medicine woman requests a special ingredient to cure the brother, so the boy weaves a basket and goes out to fetch it. The end, surprising, ironic, bittersweet is like something out of O Henry, or at least a twisted version of said author.

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