Fiction. Women's Studies. With A FLOATING WORLD, Karen Best infuses mundane life with elements of the fantastic. From mermaids and sea serpents to deadly pin pricks and crying icons, these 13 stories stretch the boundaries of reality while exploring the search for answers where there are none. The stories entrance with wonder, unexpected beauty and a passionate belief in the magical—and haunt with longing, entrapment, and an unfulfilled search for meaning.
|Publisher:||Beating Windward Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.36(d)|
About the Author
Karen Best is a bitter Goth masquerading as a nerdy bookworm. She holds an MFA from the University of Central Florida and her writing has appeared in Our Stories, ETC, and Filament Magazine. She lives in Florida with her obliging husband and several cats.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Tina Stanciu for Readers' Favorite Just when you thought all the great stories have been already written, A Floating World comes along and sweeps you off your feet. It only takes one glance at the cover and the outstanding titles and you know that this is not your ordinary short story book. Karen D. Best has given birth to thirteen modern fairy tales featuring contemporary princesses, twisted love stories, dark sea serpents, and magic dresses that will excite your imagination and make you feel you are reading your own thoughts. The words start to dance in front of your eyes and you find yourself in the heart of each story, feeling what the protagonists are feeling, and thinking about alternative endings for days after you have finished reading it. You empathize with Gwen from Eternity on Ice, as she watches her love skate away with the mysterious blue-haired girl, you share Maryska’s curiosity in Our Lady of Wormwood, and you enchant your mind with visions of the Snow Girls from Blizzard Season. Each story leaves you wanting more, turning each one into your own personal saga, putting all those “what if” questions to work. The stories surprise you, combining elements of fairy tales with pieces from modern day life and a touch of dark mystery. A Floating World is a perfect example that fairy tales still have a lot to offer us, whether they are stories about sleeping beauties or trance-inducing blue-haired women. Karen D. Best has done a stunning job portraying her thoughts, imagination, and personal style into these stories and, by adding elements such as musical, literature or film references, she has managed to get readers even more involved in the storyline of her fairy tales. Sisters of Mercy, Anais Nin, and Fritz Lang or Marlene Dietrich references enrich each story and give it an amazing power in the eyes of its readers. And what is more beautiful than reading a book that only after one page the words leave the paper and start creating images in your mind?
There’s a category of fiction that employs the inexplicable, the impossible, and the bizarre, but that lies in a Twilight Zone between the well-established genre labels of science fiction, fantasy or horror. Some people call it surrealism, some irrealism, some magical realism, some simply ‘the weird’ (see, for example, The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer). Labels aside, it’s a heady and provocative mode when employed by a competent craftsman (or craftsperson). Ms. Karen Best is more than competent: she’s enchanting. Karen Best’s new short story collection, A Floating World, consists of thirteen stories and one essay concerned with unwelcome herniations of the inexplicable through the thin tissues of mundane reality, and how those strange intrusions force the stories’ protagonists to re-evaluate their vision of the world and their place in it. Whether it’s a young artist struggling to announce a break-up and finding herself tangled in a net of sea myths, an unnamed narrator recounting the compulsive pity and charity inspired by a sudden glut of ‘Grimm Girls’ stumbling out of the snowy cold, or a young woman questing all the way to ruined Chernobyl for a holy icon and finding only a void in herself, each of the tales in A Floating World recounts in subtle, supple and evocative prose an everyday person’s sudden face-to-face encounter with a momentary lapse of the rational that completely upends (or in some cases, complicates and deepens) their own self-absorption. While none of these stories work terribly hard to announce or define themselves upon consumption, their overall effect—their haunting, lingering insinuation into your consciousness—is undeniable. You may digest them as easily as meringue cookies, but their fairy tale motifs and bittersweet human insights will return to you, again and again, days or even weeks after you read them. That, I think, is Karen Best’s primary gift as a purveyor of the weird: she’s confident enough to eschew the affectations and histrionics of many a Gothy Poe-seur or Lovecraft imitator in favor of a more understated, attenuated and human approach, allowing the story to enter the reader like a daydreamy virus that only gradually reveals how deeply it’s implanted itself in your imagination. That sort of narrative focus and self control is the mark of a real pro, especially in the realm of the weird, where it’s all too easy for a writer to over-ornament their prose, to wallow in tonal or stylistic excesses, and to use their myths and metaphors as blunt instruments instead of artful provocations. Like the poor American sap seduced by a blue-haired enchantress in the opening tale “Eternity in Ice,” I’ve been ensnared by this woman’s words and visions, and I’m more than happy to follow where she leads. More, please!