Review of “A Very Young Boy with Largely Clipped Wings”

J. C. Runolfson over at The Fix reviews the latest issue of Shimmer: the “art issue” wherein writers were asked to write to the inspiration of artwork rather than the usual story-inspiring-art scenario. It’s a very thorough, very insightful review of the issue, with some rather kind things to say about my own contribution to the magazine:

The next story in the issue is “A Very Young Boy with Largely Clipped Wings” by Michael Livingston, inspired by the art piece “Cherub” by Sandro Castelli and riffing off of Gabriel García Márquez’s “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.” In fact, the story starts with a quote from the García Márquez, setting up an expectation of magic realism that is not disappointed. Walking home one day, Pelayo encounters a child laying in the mud, a child with the stumps of wings protruding from his back. Pelayo takes the child home to his wife, Elisenda. There, they bathe the child and reveal yet more strangeness, namely his too-wide mouth and too-round head. At first, they keep him in the house, but when his attempts to fly shake the floor and threaten to send an oil lamp spilling, they move him to their shed, where they’re already keeping an old man they’d found years earlier, an old man with wings of his own.

“A Very Young Boy With Largely Clipped Wings” is a story rich with detail, taking the evocative central image of “Cherub” and spinning it into a tale of the rediscovery of hope. The titular boy is determined to fly, and his attempts re-awaken the dreams of those who live with him. Lyrically understated, Livingston’s writing nonetheless conjures fully realized characters and a strong sense of place. Crab nets and chickens, mud and brooms, are elements that ground the story even as they are each imbued with magical possibilities by the events of the plot.

What a good way to start the day!

One Comment

  1. Every manuscript needs to be given the same opportunity. ,

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