REVIEW: “Hills Like Teeth” by Michael Harris Cohen

Review of Michael Harris Cohen, “Hills Like Teeth”, in Starward Tales II, edited by CB Droege (Manawaker Studio, 2017): 77-80 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

The pin for this was set in Appalachia, or thereabouts, indicating to me it’s likely to be based on yet another story that I am not going to be familiar with (if nothing else, this anthology is encouraging me to widen my reading in classical folktales and mythologies outside of Greece and ancient Mesopotamia!). The story itself is quite short, and gives away very few clues. It was tightly constructed, with precise and concise scenes, but I did come away from it wondering, a bit, what the point of it was. Part of my frustration came from its length, but part of it came from the almost complete lack of agency of the female main character, who appears to be forced to choose between allowing her womb to be used at the whims of others and suicide. There is something about such stories that I simply find so depressing. So, verdict: Not the story for me.

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3 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Hills Like Teeth” by Michael Harris Cohen

  1. Thanks for taking the time to read my story, much appreciated! I had no idea the little story was reviewed, a friend just passed it on to me.

    Anyway, just to explain, Starward Tales were supposed to be modelled after classic stories. I chose Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants.” If you’d read the story you’d know that, in fact, the woman in my version is doomed just as the woman is in the original. Though in the original, the woman never moves. My lead takes the only agency she can: suicide. Hemingway’s original is bleak (though a classic of the short, short form, and an amazing objective narrator), I just turned it a bit bleaker, but actually allowed the woman to escape–albeit through death ; ) Though it would appear from what was coming, death was a better choice.

    Just wanted to clarify. Thanks again for the review!

    MHC

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    1. Thanks so much for the further background info! Now I want to go read the Hemingway story, and then reread yours. I found, reading the entire anthology, that there were a number of stories where I felt like I’d have benefited from knowing the inspiration story. This was one, and I’m delighted I can now fill in that gap.

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