Monday 8 April 2024

Capgras by Tommy Orange


I am slowly making my way through this anthology of 'Indigenous Dark Fiction' called Never Whistle at Night and so far it has been a mixed bag. I deliberately selected this story based on the author's acclaim and having enjoyed his debut novel There, There. Tommy Orange has quickly established himself as one of the hottest indigenous writers on the literary scene, so my expectations were pretty high. Unfortunately, this short-story was a complete letdown, leaving me baffled as to its inclusion in this anthology. 

The title, Capgras, refers to a psychological disorder in which individuals perceive others, usually loved ones, to be imposters. Great, sounds intriguing. Too bad this concept is barely explored, a wasted opportunity at establishing some real tension, drama and horror elements within an indigenous context. Instead, it's a slow burn with a dull linear plot that drags on and on without any intended purpose. The protagonist is an indigenous author doing a book tour in France and he brings along his wife and son. He has a nervous breakdown at one of the book signings, there some references to mythological Kokopelli and the story just sort of stumbles towards a lackluster ending. The most interesting and heartfelt moments emerge during the scenes where the father and son are riding around France on an electric scooter. Then again, I have no idea what the takeaway is from this story. Any allegories or metaphors went completely over my head. Hopefully this author can redeem himself with his sophomore novel that came out earlier this year.

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