Look Down, This is Where It Must Have Happened
Hal Niedzviecki is a smart writer. In Look Down, a collection of short stories, he is writing of our times from our time and from out of time in worlds that don’t yet exist. In “The Colorist,” the story of a future where there is no longer any natural color, a blind poet/prophet sees hues in his mind and announces them seasonally to the sales representatives who sell them to the world to be painted on everything. One of the most moving selections is “Prenatal,” the story of a 15-year-old honors student who is carrying her teacher’s baby. It hinges on the internal dialogue between the mother and her baby, who keeps insisting on his own termination for his sake and hers. The story ends with her symbolically becoming a mother in her mind by not listening to the child and doing what’s best. “The fetus rolls over as if settling in for a nap. Charlie gently strokes the soft fabric covering her bulge. You tired, baby? It’s so quiet. Just the tree’s new leaves drifting in the breeze.” This is a successful book of short stories with soft surprises of beautiful language by one of the best writers of our time.