- “The Man Who Shot My Eye Out is Dead” by Chanelle Benz
- Fiction Short Stories
- Read as a physical copy thanks to the publishers providing a free review copy for an honest review.
- 3/5 stars
- Finished February 11, 2017
A stunningly original debut collection, The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead is about lives across history marked by violence and longing. In ten stories of impressive range, Chanelle Benz displays a staggering command of craft as she crisscrosses through time and space to create a complex mosaic of humanity.
In “The Diplomat’s Daughter,” a woman disappears and resurfaces across the world as a deadly force of nature with many names. “West of the Known” tells of a brother and sister who turn outlaw in a wild and brutal landscape. “James III” lays bare the struggle of a young Philadelphia boy who must contend with the contradictions of privilege, violence, and the sway of an incarcerated father. In “That We May Be All One Sheepefolde,” a sixteenth-century English monk suffers the dissolution of his monastery and the loss of all that he held sacred.
The characters in Benz’s wildly imaginative collection are as varied as any in recent literature, subverting boundaries of race, gender, and class, but they share a thirst for adventure that sends them rushing toward moral crossroads, becoming victims and perpetrators along the way. Riveting, visceral, and heartbreaking, Benz’s stories of identity, abandonment, and fierce love come together in a daring, arresting vision. Benz emerges on the scene as an indomitable talent and a brilliant new literary force.
I’m not really sure where to start on this book. I’ll confess that I felt like it really went over my head. This wasn’t a bad thing, but I found myself wishing that I had one of my favorite High School English teachers around to explain it to me. Especially the story “Adela”. However, I also feel like this just shows how masterful Benz is at her craft. I feel like these stories have so many layers, that made it difficult to read as a commute read, and that they deserved more respect and time and depth than I could give them.
I found myself wanting to know what was happening in the story and once I sort of figured it out the story was over. I admired how differently each story was written, I really felt like it was a new writer for each story, which was really cool. I’m not sure if most short story anthologies are like this, as I believe this is actually my first short story anthology.
In short, Benz is an extremely talented writer, and I wish I could have appreciated it more than I was able to. I hope at some point I can read a critical analysis of this work and then go back and read it because that’s how full of good stuff it was, and I just wasn’t able to catch it all.
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