At the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, I attended a panel this year on endings. There was a lively discourse on the many facets of endings, and on whether or not - especially in short fiction - what amount of openness and what amount of closure is required. I liked the many takes on the topic, and firmly believe that while there needs to be some form of closure for the reader (a kind of 'payoff' for paying attention and joining the story for the ride), that it's the openness to an ending that really keeps my attention. I want to be left thinking, and then what happened? I don't want to be frustrated, and feel like I have no idea what the point of the tale was.
Speaking of endings, I'm at the last tale in the Saints + Sinners New Fiction from the Festival 2013 book. Well, technically, I'm at the second-last, but the actual last story in the collection is my own story "Sky Blue," and I've been skipping my own stories when I do these reviews.
I hope you've enjoyed the trip through this collection. Without any intended maligning of the other four anthologies born from the short fiction contest, I'll say this one is my favorite. The stories just seem to get better and better every year, and I'm really honored to be included.
"Stained Glass," by Karis Walsh
Talking about endings that leave you with closure but also wanting to know what comes after, this story has that in spades. Without revealing overmuch, the pair of women in this tale are both trapped in two very different ways - one, an artist who creates a comic book series from the writings of the other is agoraphobic, and just making the daily choices and getting outside the house is a desperately difficult thing to do. The other is a woman trapped in a dangerous relationship, who has found small ways to escape - including sending her writing to the artist. They have never met. They are about to find that the opportunity to be brave and escape is upon at least one of them.
But will the other join in?
I loved this story. I loved the characters, who are so wonderfully damaged without feeling pathetic or worthy of only pity. I loved the situation, and how two people who have never formally met can provide strength to each other. That, I think, is the piece of this I loved the most. And as for endings? Well, like they said on the panel, it's a delicate balance. But Walsh does it well.