REVIEW: “The Drowning Line” by Haralambi Markov

Review of Haralambi Markov, “The Drowning Line”, in Steve Berman, ed., Wilde Stories 2017: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction (Lethe Press, 2017): 183-195 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

I drive on the way back and tell my husband everything he needs to hear — slowly and with conviction, a recital of sweet nothings. What I really do is think about the man in the water, my family’s legacy and undoing.

The story opens with a man being woken by the ringing of a cell phone, and in the exchange that follows between the first-person POV narrator and the man who has called him, I found I had to flip pages back and forth and reread the scene two or three times until I figured it what was happening and who was saying which words.

But that is pretty much my only complaint about the story. It is breathlessly beautiful and full of love and it caught me up in its wake and made my heart weep and bleed. It is both ordinary — the queer aspect is both foregrounded but utterly mundane — and extraordinary — with the speculative elements providing a framework that blend fantasy and reality seamlessly. Reading this story makes me so glad I bought this anthology, despite my misgivings about my suitability to review it.

(Originally published in Uncanny Magazine, 2016.)