Little Fury by Casey Bell

Tender. Unassuming. Dire. Depressing. Heartbreaking. Words that passed through my mind as I read the stories in Casey Bell’s debut collection, Little Fury, often thinking them from one line to the next. Little Fury is a slim collection of stories, dealing with the apocalyptic, the weird and mysterious, and karmic retribution. Through all of the stories, Bell used a sense of the incomplete to end them, leaving us with the idea that these stories continue on after their final words, that despite the slice we were given in the collection, these worlds are far bigger than Bell can put on the page. This was more effective in some stories than others, but overall the collection was enjoyable.

By far the standout story for me from the collection was “Penelope and the Lotus Eaters.” Ruth is in a vegetative state, caused by a spinal cord injury, and her wife, Nellie has brought her home to die. Confronted with the responsibility of picking Ruth’s death, by unplugging the life support machines, Nellie remembers their life together, tries to wake Ruth up, just in case, and finds herself overwhelmed with the weight of the task at hand. The tragedy in this story was palpable, but it was also a very thoughtful, kind love story. “Penelope and the Lotus Eaters” was haunting and beautiful, and one that’s going to stick with me for some time.

Other stories which stood out included “Ways of Bleeding,” an imagining of how menstruation is handled in various different ages, expressing the irritation so many people with uteruses feel about how some people (mostly men) act about them. Exploring hunter-gatherer societies, Biblical times, and an imaginary feminist ecotopia, Bell pokes fun at the many ridiculous conceptions and statements about periods which every menstruating person has heard before. It was a sly, rare giggle in this collection.  The final story which I felt showed the breadth of Bell’s skill was Devil’s Pool, about two friends and their summer days at a local beach – and the longings of being a confused teenager trying to figure out her body and her sexuality, and going along with a friend. It was wonderfully nostalgic and incredibly kind to the main characters.

Little Fury is a solid debut from a promising new author. Bell’s stories are dark and difficult, reflecting the general despair a lot of people feel these days. Little Fury digs into the delicate places we hide, the fear of finding ourselves in a dystopian future, and shows us how very similar it is to our current time. It left me feeling unsettled, which is a good sign for a strong, thought-provoking collection of short stories. For a fierce debut collection, Little Fury is worth your time.

Casey Bell has an MFA from the University of Nevada, Reno. Her fiction appears in Sequestrum, Cream City Review, New South, The Boiler, Reed Magazine, The New Limestone Review and Timber. She was shortlisted for the Iowa Review Fiction Award and was a finalist for the American Short Fiction Halifax Ranch Prize, the University of New Orleans Publishing Lab Prize and the Calvino Prize. Originally from Philadelphia, PA, she now lives in Reno, NV with her partner, Dan, and their pug mix, Maud.

  • Metatron Press
  • 184 pages
  • Perfect-bound
  • Cover: Ashley Obscura
  • ISBN 9781988355351
  • Spring 2023

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Alison Manley has ricocheted between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for most of her life. Now in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she is the Cataloguing and Metadata Librarian at Saint Mary's University. Her past life includes a long stint as a hospital librarian on the banks of the mighty Miramichi River. She has an honours BA in political science and English from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University. While she's adamant that her love of reading has nothing to do with her work, her ability to consume large amounts of information very quickly sure is helpful. She is often identified by her very red lipstick, and lives with her partner Brett and cat, Toasted Marshmallow.