What is courage? I believe it is a state of freedom - when one stops speculating and follows the heart and mind with definitive surety. It can be attributed to circumstance. Often, it is simply a result of character. As they say, you can achieve the impossible if you do not know it as such. Gloria Weber has done quite the same with her short stories – Alicia and Sunless.
The former, Alicia, is a plot that has less to do with location and more with time. A past tragedy, unconfirmed at this point, has a detective try to get one Leon to confess. The guy simply wouldn’t. Alicia, the absent protagonist, is dead. We work to and fro between past memories of Leon and an ongoing tirade from Dorndorf, until an unexpected discovery results. What happens next? The characters gear up for an escape. The end.
The latter, Sunless, has more to do with location as we find ourselves trapped in a windowless space where one can almost feel the weight of darkness around. We have an uneasy Madison trapped in detention at school one late afternoon. Her fear is not helped to the least when disappearences begin, followed by shrieks from somewhere afar. This one keeps us in the thick of an attempted escape – past the school door. What happens next? The protagonist manages to do so, only to realize she can’t. The end.
Or is it? Neither story truly meets an end. For, Gloria’s stories reside in the mind. They are centered around fear, the source of which is never known. We do not learn much about how the victims look, who they are or what will attack them. All we are acquainted with is their thought. All we get is a sense of continuity. She leaves lingering air of speculation in the span of a dozen pages. To have as abstract a work as this work, to even attempt it, is what I call courage.
When I was done reading Alicia, I requested the author for a copy of Sunless. A part of it may have been because I wasn’t done with her world in such quick time. More importantly though, it was because I wanted to confirm my judgment on what I had just read: that this really is simply an audacious display of unrestrained thought in Ms. Weber’s mind. I was right.
Both Alicia and Sunless are not your leisure-time reads. They are books to be read when you wake up in the middle of the night, when you find yourself tapping mindlessly on your phone or when you simply need a shot of entertainment. And if you wish to get in that mode, simply start with the author’s bio. Once you learn that her favorite number is 27, favorite letter – L, and favorite colour - purple, you will know that either some deep purpose or a complete lack of it yields the author’s stories. That is what I call freedom from doubt.
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