REVIEW: “Everybody and His Mother” by Agrippina Domanski

Review of Agrippina Domanski, “Everybody and His Mother”, Luna Station Quarterly 32 (2017): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I struggled with this one. I struggled with reading the story, to the point where I eventually gave up about half-way through, and then let it sit for another month before coming back to reread it. It’s not that it was poorly written, it’s not that it contained elements I found problematic, I just found it a difficult story to engage with. Part of it is that it seems quite atypical for Luna Station Quarterly‘s usual offerings; it very much felt like an ordinary story, of ordinary people doing ordinary things in ordinary places and that’s all it was for the first three-quarters of the story or so. In another venue, this wouldn’t have even been worth mentioning; but reading this story in a spec fic journal, I found myself waiting for more, wanting more. So I’m in the strange position of having to say that even if the story itself is good, the venue choice isn’t. It just didn’t work for me, and that ended up affecting my interaction with the story.

The story deals with the permeability of memory, and involves a lot of double-talk; I’m never quite sure what or whom to believe, never quite sure what the truth is. Part of this is because the narrator, Jemima, is not entirely reliable; part of it is simply because many useful pieces of information are omitted from where I would want to have them, or even omitted altogether. For example, both “Jack” and “the kid” play central roles both in the story and in Jemima’s life, but it was unclear for quite awhile what the relationship was between the kid and Jemima, or between the kid and Jack, or between Jack and Jemima. Clues and puzzle pieces were given, but I put them together in the wrong way, only to find a significant portion of the story later that I’d missed the mark. All of these things conspired to my finding this a difficult piece to read.