glass slipper dreams, shattered by doungjai gam
Apokrupha (July 2019)
80 pages; $7.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
Micro-fiction is a difficult genre to master. Like poetry, it’s built on the art of distilled language. Expressions of thoughts, emotions, fear, pain, joy, nightmares, and dreams, conveyed through precise word choice and imagery. And the key word here is precise. Micro-fiction can’t be just short. It must be powerful, evocative, emotional…using the very essence of language.
glass slipper dreams, shattered by doungjai gam, does all that and more. Usually I’d be leery of a collection of “horror” poetry or micro-fiction. I’d expect the work to be either needlessly obtuse in an attempt to reach for “literary” status, or too overcooked in an attempt to reach for “dark.”
doungjai gam’s work in this small collection, however, speaks to all the nightmares, pain, grief, and trials we humans struggle with on a daily basis. In tight, precise prose and, in some cases, verse, she addresses the pain of lost love, relationships gone sour, of the marginalized fighting for agency, of mourning those taken from us too soon. She grapples with abuse, neglect, and yearning for something more.
Her work speaks to the broken in all of us, and regardless of our backgrounds or walk of life, there’s something here for everyone. And these stories vibrate with just the touch of the fantastic. doungjai gam’s collection is endorsed by horror legend Thomas Tessier, which comes as no surprise. Though the work in glass slipper dreams, shattered is shorter than most of the Tessier short stories I’ve read, they possess a similar slippery, surreal nature—though these stories are all doungjai gam. Very personal in nature. Sometimes achingly so.
The phrase “bleeding on the page” is thrown around too often in horror/dark fiction circles, and sometimes I wonder if it’s become a mere affectation. Not in doungjai gam’s case. Reading glass slipper dreams, shattered, you get the sense that you’re reading more than dark muses on life. You’re peering into the very depths of someone’s soul.