The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis

This is a short story by Karen Russel I'd previously over-looked while waiting for her next big release, which is easy to do - especially if you aren't much into ebooks the way I am most of the time. However, after closer inspection, you can also find this story and others in her newest collection of short stories Vampires in the Lemon Grove.
Karen Russel; while she has no relevant public social media pages - no blogs, no Twitter, no Facebook - at least, none that I've found (and I've checked). Basically, if you want news about any of her new releases you should hope for an interview on NPR's "Fresh Air." It's interesting because despite that - she makes a lot of her smaller works available online. So she has embraced the internet to her own advantage - and I can't blame her for wanting to have some privacy and staying off the grid. In fact, that's not very surprising of her, really. (What would I do with her Twitter handle if I had it anyway?)

One of the lovely things about Karen Russel is that her stories are hard to classify. Well, I think that's lovely, I love genre benders. I'm going to call this Young Adult Horror, but is it truly Horror and YA? It was probably never intended to be either, but it does feature realistically young adults - low income teenaged trouble makers - and a horrifying and surreal situation - finding a scarecrow version of a boy they loved to bully tied to a tree. It's pretty unsettling, but not outright terrifying. You do get a sympathetic view of a bully's perspective (if you've ever been bullied you might not want that); but there's that psychological retribution that drives the story. See why I love short stories? Unlike novels (which are largely plot driven) short stories are mostly character driven. Nothing has to actively happen, but the author gets to paint studies of these characters which, in a novel, would get swallowed away by the performance. With short stories, I can't really decide if what happens is really such an important part. In "The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis," we have this bully that is clearly eaten up with guilt.  Not only did he beat up this poor kid - a really pathetic slob (we all had one of these kids at our schools - kids that, even if you were really nice, you still openly despised. Woe be it unto that poor joke) He also, out of pure vindictiveness, took away Eric Mutis' one happiness. So, because he feels guilty, does that really make him such a terrible person after all? That's your decision to make after reading it.

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