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Black juice by Margo Lanagan
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Black juice (original 2004; edition 2006)

by Margo Lanagan

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4913620,840 (3.9)51
Member:andyl
Title:Black juice
Authors:Margo Lanagan
Info:London: Gollancz, 2006, c2004. 230 p. ; 20 cm.
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:short stories, collection, fantasy, science fiction, world fantasy award winner, ditmar

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Black Juice by Margo Lanagan (2004)

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I can't really say that I 'liked' this collection of intense YA short stories. I will say I thought they were extraordinarily original and beautifully written. And challenging. So, I liked them 3 stars, but I do believe it was a 5 star amazing book.

ETA a conversation on the GR group 'Aussie Readers.'

Jenny wrote: "Cheryl, is that the book with the story, Singing My Sister Down? OMG that story has haunted me for ages!"

Yes it is. And yes, that's a haunting story. If I weren't so squeamish, I'd've read the stories one at a time, and they all would be haunting me. "Sister..." is the first one so I think that's at least partly why it makes the biggest impact. I liked the acknowledgements, wherein the author gives clues about the inspirations. If she hadn't given those, I would not have been able to stop wondering if she were alien, or possessed, or something.... ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
quirky is a good word for Lanagan's short stories. frustratingly tantalizing would represent another way of describing them.

written like incomplete Twilight Zone episodes, the truncated anecdotes in Black Juice introduce many intriguing situations and worlds that we'll probably never have fleshed out.

they introduce punishment by slowly sinking into a tar pit, a frenetic clown assassination game played with live ammo and sponsors, feral angels that smell of earthworms and fish slime, etc., etc. much of it feels post-apocalyptic or dystopian; some pure fantasy but nothing is expected.
you want to know more; you want to see the point the author is making;see what, if any, moral or ethical head-scratcher she is trying to spell out, but just when the stories get really good, more often than not, they just end. ( )
  keebrook | Mar 10, 2015 |
4Q, 1P The short story "Singing My Sister Down" fits perfectly with the theme of the book showing darkness and light in every story. The story somehow manages to pull together murder, justice, honor, family, and love into one hauntingly disturbing 16 page story. The writing could only be improved by fewer pronouns. As it is I had to reread multiple passages to figure out which characters were being referred to. Although craftful, I found the story to be unsatisfying and it reminds me of stories I never would have read if they hadn't been required in high school literature classes.
  amkj | May 14, 2013 |
Black Juice by Margo Lanagan is a collection of ten short stories with a science fiction or fantasy bent. The book is oddly, as the SF Site Review notes, classified as juvenile fiction. While many of the main characters are young, it doesn't read as being specifically written for teens. As the stories are open for interpretation, I can, though, see them being used in a junior or senior high school English course.

The first story — "Singing My Sister Down" — was the stand out for me. A family goes to watch their daughter sink into the hot tar as punishment for a crime that is only vaguely described. It reminds me in terms of language and tone to Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery."

The other stories to me seemed unnecessarily vague. In afterword, Lanagan explains the inspiration for each story. Frankly, I wish I had read that first. It would have made understanding and appreciating the stories easier.

Take for example, "Pippit." It's a story of slow talking giants who miss their small human friend, whom they see as a Messiah. They want to escape to go find him. To me, the story read like the creatures were whales, perhaps. Turns out they're elephants.

To be honest, I got tired of trying to wrap my head around these stories. I didn't make it through the entire collection. Other reviewers, though, have had much better success and enjoyment from reading Black Juice. ( )
  pussreboots | May 9, 2013 |
Singin my sister down
My Lord's man
Red nose day
Sweet Pippit
House of the many
Wooden bride - Tiptree shortlist 2005
Earthly uses
Perpetual light
Yowlinin
Rite of spring ( )
  SChant | Apr 27, 2013 |
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First words
WE ALL WENT DOWN to the tar pit, with mats to spread our weight. (Singing My Sister Down)
MULLORD RIDES FAST AWAY, to the forest. (My Lord's Man)
HAVE YOU GOTTA DO that? (Red Nose Day)
WE SET OUT IN the depth of night, having held ourselves still all evening. (Sweet Pippit)
DOT WAS VERY YOUNG. (House of the Many)
Quotations
Between the author's surname and title on the spine is the design that appears under the titles of the stories inside. Is it a four-petaled flower? Four black birds with a white V on their wings and two white dots on their tails flying off at a slant in different directions? Four angry bat heads with their muzzles forming a diamond shape?

COPYRIGHT PAGE NOTICES: All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is included, as are two ISBNs. One ISBN is for the library bound edition.

NOTE: The dust jacket price is above the UPC code on the back instead of the upper right corner of the front flap.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060743905, Hardcover)

As part of a public execution, a young boy forlornly helps to sing his sister down. . . . A servant learns about grace and loyalty from a mistress who would rather dance with Gypsies than sit on her throne. . . . A terrifying encounter with a demonic angel gives a young man the strength he needs to break free of his oppressor. . . . On a bleak and dreary afternoon a gleeful shooting spree leads to tragedy for a desperate clown unable to escape his fate.

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Provides glimpses of the dark side of civilization and the beauty of the human spirit through ten short stories that explore significant moments in people's lives, events leading to them, and their consequences. As part of a public execution, a young boy forlornly helps to sing his sister down. A servant learns about grace and loyalty from a mistress who would rather dance with Gypsies than sit on her throne. A terrifying encounter with a demonic angel gives a young man the strength he needs to break free of his oppressor. On a bleak and dreary afternoon a gleeful shooting spree leads to tragedy for a desperate clown unable to escape his fate. In each of Margo Lanagan's ten extraordinary stories, human frailty is put to the test by the implacable forces of dark and light, man and beast. black juice offers glimpses into familiar, shadowy worlds that push the boundaries of the spirit and leave the mind haunted with the knowledge that black juice runs through us all.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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