REVIEW: “The Edge of Things” by Katharine E.K. Duckett

Review of Katharine E.K. Duckett, “The Edge of Things”, Apex Magazine 103: Read Online. Reviewed by Joanna Z. Weston.

An endless party with representatives from all eras of human history, containing the breadth and depth of human knowledge, sounds like a dream come true for any curious person. But is it really? And what would you have to give up to get there? These are some of the questions posed by “The Edge of Things.”

I’m not sure I’m smart enough to fully understand this story. Halfway through, I recognized a few characters as characters from famous literature. Were others literary allusions as well? Maybe if I were better read (or had a better memory), my experience of this story would be completely different.

What I did understand of the story was fascinating. Duckett set herself the difficult task of describing a nonsense world from the point of view of someone who recognizes that it does not make sense, and is struggling to find the underlying structure and meaning almost as much as the reader. The only difference is that the narrator has been at it for some time already, and her energy for the task has almost run out, whereas the reader is new to the confusion. We also don’t have to struggle with it for as long, because at least some of it is resolved by the end.

I appreciate that Duckett does not leave us hanging, and provides some explanation. She doesn’t give us a pat ending, because that wouldn’t be satisfying. We learn what is going on in this mysterious house, but not what exists outside of it. That is enough.