Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

The Anything Box, by Zenna Henderson

Second paragraph of third story ("Something Bright"):
If you had a quarter - first find your quarter - and five hungry kids, you could supper them on two cans of soup and a loaf of day-old bread, or two quarts of milk and a loaf of day-old bread. It was filling - in an afterthoughty kind of way - nourishing. But if you were one of the hungry five, you eventually began to feel erosion set in, and your teeth ached for substance.
I have no idea why I bought this, other than perhaps a sudden whim based on my ambition to read more work by women. I had never heard of Zenna Henderson before. But these are really good short stories, most of them liminal fantasies involving children in small-town America; the most famous one apart from the title story is "Subcommittee", where a human woman and her child manage to find a channel for peaceful communication with aliens where the grown men (of both sides) have failed. I did not even realise that it was a collection, and after finishing the first story was expecting another 150 pages of adventures for the child and teacher with the Anything Box (and then found myself on an alien world). Really something out of the ordinary. I see that most of her stories had a shared setting, and are published in two other collections, which I will now look out for. You can get this one here.

This was my top unread book acquired in 2016; next on that pile is Mostly Void, Partially Stars, by Joseph Fink.
Tags: bookblog 2020
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