Short Story Review: ‘The Keeper of the Jackalopes’

Story Title: The Keeper of the Jackalopes
Collection/Anthology?: Not applicable. Available for free download (PDF format) from the Costa Short Story Award website.
Briefly: The land on which Clary and her taxidermist father’s trailer home sits is under threat by developers. It’s another thing to add to a life where ever day is a struggle to survive.
Afterthoughts: A straightforward and engaging story, told with much panache and creativity. But the creativity, aside from when it calls upon the myth and mysticism of the jackalope, is very much down-to-earth and grounded in reality. I like a gritty short story, and this is that kind of story, but with it also comes a degree of tenderness. The relationship shared between father and daughter is a beauty to behold. Highly recommended.

Notable quote: Coffee freckles the papers under the canister, a grain here, a grain there, sprinkled each day. There are more papers somewhere, buried in the forest of the trailer. Clary’s surrounded. There’s a deer in the bathroom, a crow perches on the closet about to swoop onto bits of cotton wool on the carpet like carrion. Glass eyes watch Clary eat, sleep and pick her nose all day. The hunting store in town used to buy the animals, the museum too. Since the store closed, and the museum got computers, business isn’t what it was. Clary feels the animals are breeding, crowding in. Yet, still, her father can’t pass anything on a roadside without stopping and wondering if he can make it work.

Rating: ★★★★☆

costa_book_awards75 This story was read as preparation for casting a vote for the 2013 Costa Short Story Award. In all, six stories were selected by the award panel before being put to the public vote. All stories were presented without note of the author, so that each story would be judged on merit alone. For further details, please visit the Costa Short Story Award website.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).