Fingers and other Fantastic Stories
by Marian Coman
translated by Carmen Dumitru and Raluca Chirvase
self-published in English (2011)
Over the last five years or so, my reading habits have opened up to include authors from beyond Canada, the U.S., and Britain. The latest international offering comes from Romania. Marian Coman's short fiction has apparently been heralded over there a fair bit, but this self-published collection marks the first English translation.
Fingers is a collection of four short stories made available on the cheap via the Kindle Store. The title story "Fingers" has a wonderfully haunting aspect to its look at childhood in a Communist country, and the young lad's apparent wart on one of his fingers, which he's named Alfonso. Marian offers up the bland surroundings of the boy's life, which I thought were beautifully typified by his bombarding local kids from his bedroom window to the snowy grounds below with oranges. A great scene that is well worth reading.
The next story, "The Bathroom Door," is a bit of a horror story. Thankfully, however, it's not the kind of obvious horror story some might expect from the title. This one deals with a son's torment in the wake of his father's death and mother's insanity. Some pretty grim stuff, but told in such a way that gave it a poetic feel.
"Unwired" could fit into the sci-fi category, though it too had its dark elements. A boy on an island who feels separated from his peers on account of lacking something the others have. Frankly, I wouldn't too keen on having an extra "hole", but that's just me.
"Between Walls" was probably my least favorite among the four, but still a good read, which seemed to offer a new twist on an old piece of Romanian folklore. I'm not exactly read up on folklore outside my own country, so I'd probably have to hit Google or Wikipedia to get a better appreciation for this story.
All in all, it's an impressive sampling that shows Marian Coman deserves to find an English audience. My personal preferences toward each story diminished as I read each one, but that is something due simply to story placement. If you're looking to give an international voice a chance, here's one to consider.