Where You Linger by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
Bones of extinct species wander a campground, stalking a group of friends in love with the same woman. The object of their affection seeks solace with a couple in a world with rain that kills. A woman moves away from her repressed home town, only to transform into a man-eating monster when she returns. A robot assassin avenges women ruined by capitalism.
Journey to the liminal space with acclaimed author Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam where interconnected stories span from past to future among the dead and the living.
TITLE: Where You Linger & Other Stories
AUTHOR: Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
PUBLISHER: Vernacular Books
LENGTH: 284 pages
GENRE: Science Fiction
Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Main Character(s), Bi/Pan Main Character(s), Genderqueer/Nonbinary Secondary Character(s).
*I received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review of this book.
This is a collection about relationships and brokenness, the pieces which linger and the parts which are lost forever. Sometimes obsolesce is planned, other times it’s unexpected and strange. The stories each explore duration, impermanence, and loss in different ways.
My favorite story is “Husband Wife Lover”, a story told in notes from three people after their relationship as a trio ended. It has such subtle worldbuilding. I also love “Where You Came from”, which has a longing similar style in just one perspective, and a very different setting.
“The Mammoth” is a gender plague story, focusing on just a couple of survivors, and one which has the smart storytelling decision of having the plague target people with y-chromosomes, but to not have killed literally everyone who has one. There are little details which make it clear that society has adapted to many fewer cis men, but didn’t lose them completely.
I like the collection overall, but my enjoyment of the stories individually was very uneven. The titular story, “Where You Linger”, is about someone using a therapeutic technology to relive past relationships in order to adjust something in their own perceptions of them. All of the stories have a surreal edge to them, this more-so than most.
Skeletons - CW for ableist language (brief), alcohol, drug use (smoking), body horror, animal death (backstory).
They Come In Through the Walls - CW for ableism (brief), grief, dementia, parental death, death.
The Lifespan of Shadows - CW for grief, alcohol (backstory), alcoholism (backstory), drug use (backstory), fire/fire injury, child death, parental death, death.
Husband Wife Lover - CW for cursing (graphic), grief, sexual content, blood, death.
Where You Came From - CW for cursing, sexual content (brief), alcohol, drug use (brief), blood, murder, death.
The Mammoth - CW for grief, ableist language (brief), drug use (smoking), vomit, pregnancy, medical content, body horror, parental death (backstory), death (backstory).
Nostalgia - CW for homophobia (backstory), transphobia (brief), grief, sexual content (explicit), stalking (backstory), toxic friendship, toxic relationship, drug use, drug abuse (graphic), suicide (not depicted), death (not depicted).
The Split - CW for ableism (brief), grief (graphic), pregnancy (brief), infidelity, blood, body horror (graphic).
Where You Linger - CW for sexual content (explicit), infidelity (graphic), biphobia (brief), mental illness (brief), toxic relationship, drug use (brief), alcohol (brief), vomit (brief).
The Damaged - CW for sexual content (brief), cursing, mental illness (brief mention), drug use (brief mention), vomit (brief mention), body horror, self harm.
Hearty Appetites - CW for sexual content (explicit), ableist language (brief), cancer (brief mention), terminal illness (brief mention), death (brief mention).
The Queen of Kingdom Arts - CW for sexual content, ableist language (brief), excrement (brief), violence, pregnancy (backstory), medical content, medical trauma, death.