A Cage for Every Child
By S. D. Chrostowska
The challenging stories in S. D. Chrostowska’s latest collection aren’t really science fiction, as they take place in a universe largely without science. But then they’re scarcely stories either, taking more the form of essays or parables set in fantastic worlds where giant worms are hunted or flowers sprout from the palm of your hand.
There’s a deliberate difficulty to Chrostowska’s work, from the almost awkward formality of the prose to the evocation of imagination as a supernatural gift constrained by our corrupt human condition. Children being raised in cages, the subject of one story, has an obvious political resonance, but is more allegorical than topical. Perhaps freedom is overrated?
I find something almost medieval in Chrostowska’s antagonism of soul and body, as well as very modern in her exploration of perverse psychology. Kafka may be the presiding spirit, with the failure genius in one story being explicitly likened to Kafka’s hunger artist. He’s truly a master of the pathetic fit for our time: alienated from his world, from others, and from himself but trying to make something of it all the same.