Tuesday, 26 April 2016

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

review by Maryom

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is a collection of stories revolving around love and libraries, gardens and diaries, and the keys that can unlock their secrets. The stories are loosely linked, with main characters from one popping up in a minor 'walk-on' role in another, and with the imagery shared by many of them, of hidden secrets and lost treasures.

Throughout there's a blurring of the boundary between real and unreal - some of the stories are very firmly set in the real world, others have a folk tale feel to them, or take flight into a world where puppets are as sentient as you and I. There's a city surrounded by marshlands filled with drowned bodies, one where the clocks have stopped and fixing them is considered an offence; a house where the doors won't stay closed unless locked by key, a twist on the story of Red Riding Hood.

Reading these stories is a bit like dipping in to a collection of fairy tales for adults - the first one even starts 'once upon a time' - and, as in fairy tales and fables, I felt that hidden beneath the story was a moral, but one I couldn't always find. The stories are definitely beautifully written but so much so that I found myself at times carried away by the words, and not grasping the meaning; I was half mesmerised, half perplexed. The collection has, though, whetted my appetite; I hadn't previously read anything by the author, but now I shall check out her previous work.

Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - Picador
Genre -adult, short stories

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear it's good and a bit mythical, I've got this to read and am looking forward to it. Your review's confirmed what I thought might be the case (what I found from reading her Boy, Snow, Bird). With Oyeyemi it seems there's a lot to love but the reasoning in the plot lines can be a bit vague. The former's generally enough to offset the latter, though.