Lava Falls is the novella for which Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s collection is named, and I while I mentioned the first story in the collection (Girl with Boat) way back in January as one of the best opening tales in a collection I’ve ever read, this novella? Masterful.
I’m not sure I can do the narrative justice beyond the barest sketches: it’s about a group of women who gather to raft down the Grand Canyon. They are of different ages, include a mother-daughter pair, and the story weaves and shifts through their points of view in a beautifully paced tumble, much like the river they’re traveling. The changes are deft, done at key moments and with such cleverness the story becomes a whole and its parts, and then there’s a further layer on top woven throughout—glimpses of visions, brief echoes of the past, perhaps, or potentially just hallucinations—that pays off in the final moments. I inhaled after reading Lava Falls, and my spec-fic heart was really, really happy. Such a fantastic novella.
I’d also like to point out here the whole collection was packed with tales that really grabbed me—Wildcat, The Found Child, The Antarctic, My Beautiful Awakening, The End of Jesus—and the collection as a whole was just freaking stunning. If you’re at all a lover of short fiction, do yourself a favour and pick this up.