This was an eminently peculiar story. I found myself reading it in fits and starts, going for a few paragraphs and then having to back-track and re-read. Ordinarily a story that makes me feel like I have to stop midway through and re-read because I’ve missed something crucial or something doesn’t make sense irritates me. This story, though, balanced on the fine line between fantasy/fairy tale and surreal that each read through brought with it a new detail or a new understanding, and helped build up different layers. No matter how often I read (or re-read) it, I was never quite sure what was going on, what was real, what was not. I really enjoyed it.
This story is extremely short and sweet, reminding me a lot of Le Guin’s Earthsea, and I say that as a huge compliment.
The Crane Alphabet tells the tale of a novice in some sort of religious, possibly magical, commune, who seems to be mute. The one telling the story explains that another member of the commune, Marin, has been waiting to see if the novice will transform into a bird. The story is so short that to tell more would be giving away too much.
I will say that Davenport has woven a beautiful tale that speaks about fear of the fabled “other,” obsession, and the ways that obsession can transform a person. It’s one of the stand-out stories in this issue of the magazine and I highly, highly recommend it.