The Shell Collector
8/10 I started this book nearly a year ago. Read the first 4-5 stories and was so weirded out by them that I put the book back on the shelf. A lot of things happened since then, most significant of which is that I found out I have cancer. Since my diagnosis I have been nurturing this desire of living much closer to the wild nature. Laying in the hospital bed I dream of moving into my grandma’s cottage at the edge of the forest, looking at the stars at night, growing my own vegetables and taking a long forest walks with my dog. This desire or fantasy or longing or whatever you like to call it also reminded me of one of the stories in this book: The hunters wife.
It is a story about an old hunter, who lives deep, deep in the forest. He marries a very young girl from the town and brings her to live with him. At first all goes well, but the longer she spends time alone in the forest, the more she gets connected with the nature. She starts to feel what animals feel, and she starts to have visions about what happens when animals die. She starts to dream about the wolfs, deer, bears and owls - dead or alive. She start sleeping for most of the day, communicating with dead animals in the divine spirit of the nature in her dreams. Then, one day she goes to the city and sees a boy drown in the local river. She comes to the scene of the incident and when she touches the boy’s dead body visions of his life and afterlife emerge giving solace and peace to his loved ones that are at the scene of the tragedy. From this point on that she becomes the woman who attends other people’s funerals and offers the loved ones a glimpse into the deceased’s afterlives. She leaves the hunter and follows her calling for the rest of her life.
Strange story, right? Well, all the stories in this book are like this. Profoundly strange. Always unexpected and never predictable. At first, this confused me and I put the book down after the first couple of stories. But with time I found appreciation for these unique plotlines. They are memorable, their characters special, introspective and they make you pause and think, What’s the metaphor here? What hidden punchline is under the veil of weirdness? And so I grew to like them. I think I will recommend them for anyone who is looking to read something strange and edgy yet with purpose and an idea about life hidden inside.
A book of profoundly weird stories that hide within themselves metaphors about life and the nature of existence. If you are confused, don’t panic, it’s the point.