Review of Michelle Enelen, “Meat Me in the Livingroom”, in David G. Clark, Callum Colback, Joe Butler, and Alex Hareland, eds., Beneath Strange Stars, (TL;DR Press, 2020): 325-340 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)
Before reading this story, whenever I saw this title I kept interpreting “meat” as a verb, a la its homophone “meet”, but no — Meat Me is a person, who is confined to the livingroom. She is visited regularly by Selene, who comes to tell her about the world outside (note: I was somewhat confused by Selene. First, Selene’s pronoun is “they/them”, except in the plural not the singular. And yet, when they refer to themselves, they use the singular “I”. Later on, “she” is apparently used in reference to Selene), as well as the egotistical, jerkish Poppy, who forms the final third of the trio. We never learn why Meat Me cannot leave the Livingroom, only that she is lonely there, despite visits from Selene and Poppy…until the Shipman arrives. Shipman brings with him many things Meat Me desires: he is new and exciting, he is interested in her and her life, he brings company to lonely days. But he also brings with him new, unpleasant ideas, and a purple-black smoke that follows his footsteps and leaves death in his wake.
The allegorical nature of Shipman is quite overt in the story, almost heavy-handed at times. Still, it wasn’t so overt as to make the ending foreseen, and I continued to read with interested to see who would win out in the end. I did feel that the Epilogue had no place in the story, though; it raised more questions than it answered.