Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Narrow Valley" by R. A. Lafferty

Another selection from Thomsen's The American Fantasy Tradition.  Here we have a silly folklorish fable full of one-liners.  An American Indian casts a spell on his homestead that discourages tax collectors and other interlopers from coming to bother him.  I don't really find this sort of thing amusing, though some do.  If I gave out stars, this would be right in the middle, 3 of 5, inoffensively average.

I've only read one other Lafferty story (that I can remember), "The World as Will and Wallpaper."  That story was much more challenging and interesting.   

4 comments:

  1. It's funny how different people react to R. A. Lafferty's writing. "Narrow Valley" is my favorite short story, bar none. I view it as the Great American Short Story (a title bestowed by a college professor in an English class I once took upon Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums"). It has everything: Indians, homesteaders, a sheriff, eminent scientists (complete with scientific babble), and precocious children. It seems to capture the western expansion of America in a very funny and oddly shaped nutshell, except with a happy ending for the Indian this time.
    Thank you,
    Kevin

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  2. It is possible that I will come back to this story in a few years, after I have read more Lafferty and am more in tune with his "wavelength," and have a more positive reaction. I didn't "get" the first Gene Wolfe or Jack Vance that I read, only later coming to think of those authors as among my very favorites.

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  3. As a Native American, I found the story very funny. If anything, it does get a bit of the inward style of "Indian Humor" most others find hard to grasp. It's one of my favorite short stories I go back to time and again as a pick-me-up.

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  4. According to what I have read online about him, Lafferty not only was fascinated by Native American culture, but has been embraced by Native American readers.

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