Fantasy · Short Story

Review: “Realer Than You” by Christopher Barzak

coyoteroadThis short story is from The Coyote Road, an anthology edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow. I’ve been reading some of the stories now and then in the mornings, and this is one of my favourites so far.

The story is about Elijah Fulton, whose family moved to a small Japanese town called Ami. While his parents and younger sister were adapting to life there, he hated every moment of it. “If I could have, I would have run away from Japan altogether. But it’s an island unfortunately, so I was stuck.” The first time I was in Japan, I had a completely different reaction. But I know how he felt. I know about living in a place where it seems like no one is speaking the same language.

Elijah meets a girl wearing a fox costume, and she seems to be the only person he could relate to. He later finds out that she wasn’t who he thought she was, and changed his perception about reality. I enjoyed this story; it’s the first kitsune story that I’ve read (the ones I know so far are all personal accounts from friends and their grandparents).

Favourite quotes:

“…don’t get me wrong, but I wanted someone to understand me. I didn’t want to argue about my feelings. Here I’d been thinking because someone spoke English, we’d understand each other. But I guess there are languages within languages, and those can be foreign too, even when you think you’re understood and understanding.”

“Nothing is more real than the masks we make to show one another who we are. Whether it’s an animal girl or a businessman, whether it’s a goth boy with many piercings or a Japanese housewife wearing an apron as she rides down the street on her moped, these are our masks. The best I can do is love them.”

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