In Bobcat and Other Stories, Rebecca Lee tells the story of humanity. These seven stories are about the range of emotions and circumstances we find ourselves in, rife with infidelity, with guilt, with longing, but a universal hope that pervades all. In “Slatland” a young woman uses the ability to “rise above” in order to get her through any troubling life event that happens, save for one. “Min” centers around a young woman given the task of choosing a wife for her best friend, while in “Fialta” a group of talented architectural students live together under the strange, glorious, and oftentimes perplexing rule of their mentor and teacher. Each story is specific and incredibly detailed, harboring individual life forces and tales that are both powerful and small.
Rebecca Lee is one of those rare writers that can take the every day detail and turn it inside out, making it beautiful once again. Her stories are vast and wide, just like her prose. She delves into the matter, and roots up what’s important in a story. Some are longer than others, and the reader instantly knows it has a purpose. Every line, every word: there’s a weighty significance that is intentional and gorgeously written. Her writing is of the best sort. Take for example this passage from “Fialta”:
“It seemed only right, I thought, as I spiraled down into the evening air alone, that the cows had such a place to live, since they themselves seemed hybrids of this earth and the next, animals and angels both.”
Her stories are rooted in reality, but her prose allows them something akin to magical realism. They are dream-like at their furthermost edges, and once you begin, you’re sucked in until the very end, without any acknowledgement of time or space. They are winding things that take a few moments to establish what they are about, but it’s worth it, because their hooks are massive things that speak of the human condition.
I’d recommend this read to anyone who likes a wonderfully told, succinct, and realistic short story. It’s a relatively short book, and each story encompasses a universe of its own.
Reviewed by M.B. Sellers
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date: 5/7/2013