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Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan

Yellowcake (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Margo Lanagan

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1506183,042 (3.45)11
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.
Authors:Margo Lanagan
Info:Sydney : Allen & Unwin, 2011.
Collections:Your library

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Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan (2011)


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The smell of a rose brings back a lost past; golden strands lead a prince to rescue his lover; two sisters are given an icy reception; a mother ascends to angelic status in front of her sons eyes; a daughter takes over the family business; a boy will discover the brutally in the workplace. This is just a taste of some of the tales that are waiting to be consumed within this delicious book.

This offering of short stories is an interesting mix of something's sweet, something's sour and other things bittersweet. For within these ten stories are weaved a wide variety of ingredients including elements of fairy tales, Bible stories, myths, fantasy and science fiction. But while some stories may leave you felling unsatisfied, others are a delight to devour, standing out for their slices of originality, their quickly capturing taste and their shore fire recipes of timeless themes.

Yellowcake is a collection that clearly highlights the differing forms of a short story, accentuating a wide variety of themes, subjects and styles. Each story presented is as unique in its language as it is in its writing style and is recommended for more mature readers due to its complexity in both. With the nature and form of short stories being here expand there is plenty to contemplate, however there is work to be done in drawing out each stories meaning, but easily grasped in each story is the emotional reactions they evoke. ( )
  LarissaBookGirl | Aug 2, 2021 |
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 |
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 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margo Lanaganprimary authorall editionscalculated
Sadokierski, ZoeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.

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