Where? – Stein Riverton (translated by Lucy Moffatt)
Submitted to The SHORT TALE Review.
“I cannot comment on the faithfulness of the translation – without the translator’s art for language it is difficult for the reader to fully appreciate how reliably not only the words, but also the spirit of the prose are reproduced.
This tale was apparently originally written in the thirties and it has that other-timely charm about it. It takes on the ‘tale within a tale’ approach to the short story. It’s a device that can deliciously and deliberately wrong-foot the reader. My first instinct on this occasion, however, was the singular similarity between the voices (a symptom of the translation perhaps?).
After a stilted start that leaves us trying to understand what we are being told, the story settles into the tale of a mother driven to distraction by the anxiety of her children returning home from their Aunt’s house. This section is beautifully paced and is hauntingly brooding. We really feel the mother’s pain – she understands something’s wrong long before anyone else does. Even before the children are missing we hear: ‘The mother leaned forward. I heard her whisper: Anne-Marie and Luise. It seemed natural for her to whisper. Since it was their mother whispering, the two children on the street would surely hear it. But then she straightened up. “No, it isn’t them,” she said…”’ It is a mother’s sixth sense revealing itself.
This is a cleverly constructed story that draws you in deeper and deeper until you are sharing the underlying menace. Riverton (with the help of Lucy Moffatt) is certainly a writer worth exploring further.”
The SHORT TALE Review 2016