19 September 2022

The sigh-producing Lucky Girl by M. Rickert

I just finished Lucky Girl with such a complex sigh, analysts aplenty would have salivated.

For, although I’ve enjoyed many an M. Rickert tale and feasted and will again, fighting the worms, that whale, The Shipbuilder of Bellfairie, I had a tinge of trepidation over the subtitle: How I Became a Horror Writer—for (horrors!) I vastly prefer writers to be writing about anything other than themselves. My favourite writers abhorred this too, studiously being great bores in public, so no one would want to biographicise them, or seek out their watering holes and childhood bathtubs.
The other worry I had was Laird Barron’s quote, “M. Rickert at her ice-cold best.” For ice, I take little bouts of Parker, but otherwise, I really don’t warm to it. Instead, to my relief, there’s a dessert in the book that fits this tale: Baked Alaska.
It’s ice in the middle, but surrounded by a toasted froth that has a wryness to it, a sense of humour to it, a self-deprecation at the very character that the protagonist horror writer must turn into to present to society, and a sense of distrust at her own self that doesn’t interfere with her passions.
Indeed, she is as engaging a character as I’ve ever fallen into interest and frustration/sympathy at. She being the storyteller is done so well, that M. Rickert is some unknown, invisible, not putting her big authorial stamping feet on the words flowing from “Ro”.
I love M. Rickert’s insistence on telling each story in its own voice. She does so here, and that voice in its wryness, reminds me of Margery Allingham’s in The Case of the Late Pig, another fave of mine. The pace is perfect, the tension never feeling artificially stretched. In this, Lucky Girl reminds me of another love of mine, the short story “Valentine’s Night” by Nancy Pickard.
I would certainly read this writer's works, for the telling, just as I do, M. Rickert's. Phrases such as "a slithering whisper of congeniality". In other ways, this is a character who knows too much, more than she wants to and ultimately, less than she needs. I don't know if we'll hear more from her, but if so, I doubt it will be from anyplace cold unless that is the point.
As for scary, I didn’t think it scary any more than the “news”--it was all so viably true. So yeah, it’s scary as hell, but in a good way. Great with chocolate or a lovely bit of regression in a thumb-suck.
I forgot to note how superb a study it is of loneliness and loneness.