THE LIGHT­NING JAR

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight University Press Fiction - MICHELLE ANNE SCHINGLER

Chris­tian Felt, Univer­sity of Iowa Press (OC­TO­BER) Soft­cover $16 (142pp), 978-1-60938-600-9

In Chris­tian Felt’s eerie and won­drous The Light­ning Jar, an out­wardly or­di­nary Swedish fam­ily’s history is plumbed for its most ex­tra­or­di­nary dreams and as­pi­ra­tions.

Amanda and Karl spend their sum­mer perched on the edge of a Swedish lake with their mother. Its depths are in­hab­ited by pretty mon­sters; its waters have had the smell light­ning-zapped right out of them.

Their great-grand­mother, Astrid, is a back­ground fig­ure in their tale, as are her mys­te­ri­ous, near-for­got­ten re­la­tions. She re­turns in the story of one of her grand­chil­dren, as well as in her own child­hood lakeside story. One of her prog­eny, Mons, com­munes with pond crea­tures and dreams of the Morra, who turns liv­ing be­ings into glass.

Gyp­sies and ghosts, col­ors and sounds, forests and dances: they all twirl to­gether in this lonely, lively book. An­i­mals talk and myth­i­cal be­ings linger.

Vin­tage im­pres­sions of wim­ples and queens are coun­ter­acted by men­tions of con­tem­po­rary de­lights. This re­al­ity is both grounded and aloof, lur­ing at­ten­tion in much the same way that the lake’s Wisps se­duce wan­der­ers into their realm. Some of the sim­i­les are down­right dis­turb­ing, oth­ers are sim­ply lovely.

Though its sto­ries within sto­ries have lin­ear lines, The Light­ning Jar less asks to be fol­lowed than ac­qui­esced to; its pages twinge all of the mag­i­cal chords that child­hood fairy tales do, ask­ing ques­tions whose power lies in their au­da­cious­ness, not in their an­swers:

Its chil­dren are both viv­i­fied by their fam­ily mem­bers and left lone­some even in com­mu­nion. The Light­ning Jar is equally melan­choly and spec­tral as it traipses through child­hood days.

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