Review of M. John Harrison, “The East”, in Settling the World: Selected Stories 1970-2020, with a foreword by Jennifer Hodgson (Comma Press, 2020): 217-229. — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)
This story, like “The Incalling” earlier in this anthology, focuses on a young man, the narrator, who takes an intense interest in a stranger, striking up a conversation with the man from the East, becoming his friend, and eventually stalking him all over London. I’m really not sure what to make of these stories. There is absolutely no sense on the part of the narrator that what they are doing is intrusive or wrong (only once does he feel “faintly guilty” (p. 224) about pawing through the man from the East’s belongings); it makes you wonder how much this is the narrator’s view and how much the author’s.
(Originally published in Interzone, 1996).