Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan

Yellowcake (2011)

by Margo Lanagan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
936129,846 (3.5)11



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 11 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Almost everyone loves cake, but this is a completely different kind of slice!

Yellowcake, almost everyone I know loves cake, am I right? Well with this particular anthology I would have to say it will really only appeal to a certain slice of people. Those that don’t mind their fiction being disjointed, vague, obscure and dare I say…odd. While I enjoyed it, I honestly don’t know of anyone that I would recommend it to. It was just that strange. Literally it felt like it was all over the field. One moment it would be something deep I could understand and be in awe of, then next perhaps a love story, only the next story to be confusion and “WTF?” Ultimately, I would have to tag Yellowcake as “hard to place” and I definitely think readers will either fall heavily on the love or hate side of this short story collection. If it sounds appealing to you, I would say give it a whirl.

The Point of Roses
This story was amazing. I loved absolutely everything about it!. Billy sets out one night with a group of boys to experiment with psychic powers. Their experiments have have quite the interesting effects on them all as well as Billy’s grandparents. This was an unexpectedly heartbreaking and warning in equal measure. Also the kids were hilarious!

“Can’t go? What’s he doing, working up a good crap? Ow.” – pg 9

“It’ll never fade,” Alex whispered. “I’ll never forget.” “You will, too, “said Shai. “Just like you forget a bad dream.” “I don’t forget those, either,” said Alex, weeping. “I lie there going over and over it in my head, and trying not to go back to sleep and have it again. And sometimes I do go to sleep, and I do have it again–” – pg 21

The Golden Shroud
A retelling of Rapunzel but more along the lines of the damsel in distress instead of the original version. I liked it well enough with so much hair how could it not take on a life of it’s own? The writing style wasn’t my favorite. I believe the author was going for an old world fell which was definitely captured, but I wasn’t personally fond of.

A Fine Magic
I have but one thing to say, Never scorn a sorcerer’s affections! Two eligible and lovely young girls sought after by all the men in town catch the attention of a local fascination (sorcerer). Determined, a bit daft, but ever vengeful is a man when after a woman’s affections! I love the darkly humorous ending.

An Honest Day’s Work
This one was just strange. I couldn’t get a comfortable handle on the dialect style, and when that happens it always hampers my enjoyment a bit. It was an interesting story to be sure. This would be a crazy first day on the job indeed. What was that thing anyhow? I’m still not quite sure!

Into the Clouds on High
Someone, something, somewhos have been trying to call Marcus’ mother away. As a mother I just couldn’t understand how another mother would be so nonchalant about the possibility of leaving her children. This was sad, but not sad. Though I didn’t know what to feel by the end, it was a good short.

Nigh of the Firstlings
All I could think of while reading this was is this some sort of biblical tale? Was that the affliction done to the first born son of each family? And the parting of the sea? This one just wasn’t for me.

Catastrophic Disruption of the Head
Twisted and dark, you should expect that with an opening line like “Who believes in his own death?” This was a tale of a soldier, who changes when he acquires power of an unexpected sort. This story definitely is not for everyone and I was very surprised at the level of violence…or to put it more bluntly violation.

A little of what you can expect:
“I steeled myself before every fight, and shat myself.” – pg 129

One of my favorites in this collection. Who could have suspected the Ferryman who shuttles souls across the river Styx is a mortal? So sad and yet not, I almost think that sums up all of Lanagan’s stories. This one though was definitely well done and easy to follow.

“Some say dad is ugly. I say his kind of work would turn anyone ugly, all the gloom and doom of it. And anyway, I don’t care–my dad is my dad. He can be ugly as a sackful of bumholes and still I’ll love him.” – pg 168

Living Curiosities
Everyone enjoys the circus..or do they? There’s a tragedy that takes place this day, and plenty of curiosities as the title promises. I’ve come to the conclusion that find this author’s writing style very hard to get pulled in by.

Eyelids of the Dawn
Itchy! Do you ever see a bug and then you just can’t help feeling creepy cranky and itchy all over until you take a shower? That’s how the opening scenes of this made me feel. Afterward, it was a pretty fascinating concept. An entire Mall, that’s right the shopping kind, just picks up and walks off. Fancy that? ( )
  Pabkins | Jun 24, 2014 |
Ten short stories from Margo Lanagan are anthologized here, spanning time and space. Ranging from fantasy to science fiction to horror, each tale is its own little universe, peopled with characters looking for connection, for explanation, for understanding. Whether the story plunges down to the Underworld for a day in the life of a ferryman or peels back the flapping entrance to a circus tent, Lanagan gives readers a peek into a strange world that’s not so different from our own.

I felt that the collection, as a whole, lacked cohesiveness. The only element that I saw recurring was that several stories were based on fairy tales or religious folklore. For example, “Night of the Firstlings” tells the story of the Passover as it might have appeared to one of children of the Israelites, while “The Golden Shroud” gives a rather happier ending to the characters of “Rapunzel”. But not every tale has a literary precedent, so it doesn’t serve as a true unifying element.

This is my first experience with Margo Lanagan. She has a very vague, dreamy style of writing that implies much but explains little. It’s often difficult to pinpoint anything with certainty. In some stories, like “Catastrophic Destruction”, it infuses an old narrative with new magic - but then again, if you aren’t familiar with Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Tinderbox” then I’m not sure the story will make sense, or be strong enough to stand on its own. The tales are often disjointed or jumbled. A Booklist review describes the text as “tricksy prose [that] feels as if it’s been translated into an alien tongue and back again”, and I think that’s a fairly accurate. I was often left wanting more, but not in a good way.

As with all short story anthologies, there are some strong stories that I would eagerly read again and others that I could barely finish. This is worth picking up for Lanagan’s takes on Rapunzel and “Into the Clouds on High”, a touching story about a boy whose mother keeps trying to float away into the sky, but you might want to find the book in a library first to see if the author’s labored tellings will be enjoyable or a chore. ( )
  makaiju | Dec 13, 2013 |
This is the 4th collection of short fiction by Lanagan, after Black Juice, White Time and Red Spikes. And it is the 4th I've read. Here in the states her work is marketed as YA, perhaps because the viewpoint is often that of an adolescent or a child and the prose uncongested. If one were trying to categorize her stories, one might say some were magical realism, science fiction, fairy tale or fantasy (or some combination of these), but one would only bother to do so in order to inform another.

Margo Lanagan has a remarkable imagination. The reader never knows what where they are going in one of her stories. They always start on solid, familiar ground, but soon the ground drops out from under you and well, you're on your own after that. Take my favorite story in this collection of 10 stories. "An Honest Day's Work" begins with a work crew having lunch, the banter all very familiar, but the names are not. The viewpoint is from a young person, a newbie on the team, who is somewhat handicapped. A call comes in to the leader's walkie talkie and soon there's a scrambling because a 'big one' is incoming. Here is where the solid ground drops out, and Lanagan's story is detailed, and mesmerizing; she's a bit of a tease with the clues. Whatever the 'incoming' is, it's desperately needed food and the crews are going to dismantle it.

At first, all we could see was the backlit bulk of the thing, with a few bright rags of aura streaming in the wind, thinning as it came closer. The light from the sun, which as yet was below the horizon, made the thick shroud glow, and the body shape was a dark blur within in. I thought I could see a head, against a bigger torso. But you can't be sure with these things; they're never the same twice in their build and features, in their arrangement of limbs.

At about the time when you figure out what's going on, and all seems to be going well for the crew, the unexpected happens.

For this story, Lanagan was inspired by a film she saw on ship-breaking. Honestly, who watches a film on ship-breaking and imagines something like "An Honest Day's Work"? Well, Lanagan does. I find her work, the way it unsettles me, rather stimulating. ( )
  avaland | Nov 15, 2013 |
I am just not that much of a short story person, even though I like Margo Lanagan's writing a lot, so this ended up being a strong collection of stories that I moderately enjoyed.

All the stories are very much in her style, very rich, very vivid imagery, often somewhat haunting, and generally very vaguely otherworldly or creepy -- although she's extremely versatile in the way the creepiness sets it. It's never the same type of otherworldliness. Some of these are almost science fiction-y, while others draw from traditional fairy tales or myths.

It's hard for me to judge short stories. I liked this, but there're just all too short to me to feel that invested in them. I am impressed though, that almost all of the settings felt like they could be the environments for other, longer books that still made sense. ( )
  delphica | Sep 5, 2013 |
Quick—someone teach me how to review a short story collection. I’m afraid I didn’t take notes on individual stories as I read this, so just a few words on the collection as a whole.

The book’s afterword explains not only Lanagan’s inspiration for each of these stories, which I found interesting to read, but also that the majority of these stories have been previously published elsewhere. If you’ve been a dedicated YA short story anthology reader, particularly of the SFF kind, then you may have read some of these stories already. It’s probably a good idea to know this, in order to avoid buyer’s disappointment.

The best audience for YELLOWCAKE is devoted Lanagan fans, or readers who have read a book or two by her and are curious for more. I fall into the latter, perhaps moving into the former. Like her other books, the stories in YELLOWCAKE don’t seem like they should work, but they do. In each of them is a vague echo of something familiar: I felt like I had read the essence or the ideas of some of them before. But in Lanagan’s uniquely skillful hands, the ideas turn into phantasmal sights, old and new at the same time.

I’m not sure if there’s a connecting thread running through all these stories. Sometimes I felt like I could catch hold of a connection, but then the next story comes along and dashes my tentative theories into pieces. The best I can come up with is that this short story collection persuasively argues, in a peripheral, is-it-or-is-it-not kind of way, the importance of having a little more magic—however you define it—in our lives. ( )
  stephxsu | May 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

A collection of ten short stories of unusual people, places, and events, including reimagined classic tales and original works, most of which were previously published.

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
14 wanted2 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.5)
2.5 2
3 7
3.5 2
4 5
5 2

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 105,852,955 books! | Top bar: Always visible