“Featuring her signature themes of identity, eroticism, and existential quest, the stories in Sarah Hall’s third collection travel far afield in location and ambition–from Turkish forest and coastline to the rain-drenched villages of Cumbria.
The characters in Sudden Traveler walk, drive, dream, and fly, trying to reconcile themselves with their journeys through life, death, and love. Science fiction meets folktale and philosophy meets mortality.
A woman with a new generation of pacemaker chooses to shut it down in the Lakeland, the site of her strongest memories. A man repatriated in the near east hears the name of an old love called and must unpack history’s dark suitcase. From the new world-waves of female anger and resistance, a mythical creature evolves. And in the woods on the border between warring countries, an old well facilitates a dictator’s downfall, before he gains power.
A master of short fiction, Sarah Hall opens channels in the human mind and spirit and takes us to the very edge of our possible selves”
Sudden Traveler by Sarah Hall is a compilation of her most recent short stories. If you’ve been following my blog or Instagram for a while, you might know I’m not a huge fan of short stories. But, once in a while I yearn for a quick read. One that won’t make me fall madly in love with the characters or suffer their sufferings. One that I can read in between breaks during my day, and Sudden Traveler did just that.
This was my first time reading something by award-winning writer, Sarah Hall, so I didn’t know what to expect. In short, Hall’s writing is lyrical, almost poetic. So, if you like poetry, you’ll probably like Hall’s writing. Her skills in describing reality—as well as fantastical elements in the stories—is admirable. And although I was thrown off by some of the descriptions (some of which I was unable to decipher), I cannot deny her prose is beautiful. Still, I’m not sure some of the fictional elements worked in her favor or if they even conveyed the message she was trying to instill due to the wordiness and flowery language used throughout. And although this was not my favorite type of writing, I enjoyed it (for the most part).
I will be honest and say that most of Hall’s stories in Sudden Traveler left me in a state of confusion. I’m not entirely sure I was able to enjoy the stories as I would a novel. Perhaps with the exception of “Sudden Traveler” and “Orton.” Also, the theme of identity was prevalent throughout most of the short stories. Womanhood and motherhood were present as well.
There was one quote in particular that spoke to me, and I hope it’ll speak to you as well.
It states, “And, listen, if you really need a sign, now, that something better is coming, that you will survive, that you will one day travel through kinder times, here it is.”
My recommendations: this book is definitely not for everyone. However, if you’re a reader who enjoys mystery in the sense of unknowing and open-ended conclusions, this might be a book for you. Also, if you enjoy science fiction and philosophy, you’ll enjoy this book as well.
I’m giving it a 3/5 stars.