The idea of someone “cursed” or shrouded in bad luck is brought rather delightfully to life here in this latest story from Lesley Nneka Arimah’s What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky, and I have to say despite her being prickly and borderline cruel and careless, I was rooting for Glory from step one, when she was fighting with Facebook because Facebook wouldn’t believe her that her name was actually a full statement professing glory to God, even once she’d attached copies of legal documentation. I have a friend named Bambi. This is so not out of the realm of reality.
Glory’s grandfather proclaimed this shroud of ill fortune, and from there it seems to have settled in quite well. Glory, when presented with a choice, has the uncanny ability to choose the wrong thing. Doesn’t matter if she knows what’s better, or can verbalize why, she just ends up on the wrong side of every decision. Now, this doesn’t absolve her as a character, as it becomes clear throughout the story that she’s aware and conscious of her direction, and she deflects and lies and is so embittered by the way chance works against her that she’s certainly not blameless, but she’s still such an engrossing character. And then she meets a man who seems to be very much her opposite. Lucky. Graceful. Casually successful.
It’s when they begin to date that Glory really starts to consider what it is to be born so unlucky, and whether or not it’s possible to trick the gods who’ve frowned upon her. The cumulation of the story—she meet’s the man’s mother—and the very last lines of the story are so wonderfully written that I didn’t even mind the story’s ambiguous ending (which, on thought, both can and can’t be ambiguous, given all we’ve learned about Glory so far, but painted instead from the reader’s perspective because she’s in a situation where ‘what’s the right thing to do?’ is buried deeply in one’s own judgement). Honestly, it’s a great character story in so many ways.