The title story from Rosalie Parker's new collection (Swan River Press, guys!) takes us away from the modern settings and characters the author generally favours. Instead we are in what might be termed Michael Eisele country - a world where people are living in small tribes, telling stories, passing on an oral culture.
The story, told around the campfire, is of Tura. She is that most modern and necessary of figures, the girl who wants to hunt and does not want to marry. Tura stalks the hunters and saves the life of a young man, Selim, thus earning great credit, but also bringing great disrepute on herself and her family. Sure enough, when the time comes for her assigned husband to appear and claim her, it's a no show. Fortunately Selim, the good guy, comes through. The two marry, and have a happily unorthodox partnership, because it is truly equal.
The framing narrative is that of a tribal elder telling this tale to the young folk who tend to go off to the big city. This is, I feel, a story of an ancient world that is always new precisely because it can only live in stories. While a very short tale, 'Sparks from the Fire' says a lot, like the old storyteller. In a culture drowning in words, most of them formed into deeply stupid and obnoxious patterns, it's a reminder of the virtues of simplicity.
More from this collection soon!