Reviewed by Sheri Harper
by Erica Olsen
Torrey House Press, LLC
ISBN: 978-1-937226-05-3, Oct 2012, Paperback: 165 pages
I love many places in the west with the unique rock formations and interesting history of native American cultures, so I found Erica Olsen’s collection of short storiesRecapture a fun, imaginative return to these areas. Because of her curation work for archaeology museums, many of her tales feature the study of archaeology although many tend to feature the tedious nature of cleaning artifacts rather than the careful study of a site. Her stories, though, are provocative explorations of human relations in regions where the population is quite sparse.
Most of the stories are about people in different stages of relationships, some told by a man’s point of view, others told by a woman’s. Most of the tales have overtones of emotion while told from a detached point of view. The contents of the collection include:
• Adventure Highway – lost in the wilderness a man finds himself
• Everything is Red – a story that examines legalities behind the trade of artifacts
• Driveaway – examines a divorced man who meets his son after years apart and the reason for divorce in the context of an illegal recovery of artifacts
• Reverse Archaeology – examines the relationship of a couple affected by the theft of an artifact and their attempt to restore what they once had
• The Keepers – a conservator restores an old map while examining the changes to the geology of the land
• Bristlecone – a woman remembers her discarded relationship when she uncovers a phot
• The Curation of Silence – a woman compares her life as a curator to a collector whose work would never be shared with the public
• Going to Randsburg – a lonely woman faces temptation at a Hot Springs
• Utah Wildmall Rangers – parks are altered from reality by tours and the rangers love the natural and seek to return it
• Wonders of the World – a woman finds her own satisfaction in life at the end of a relationship
• Persuasion – a man is seduced by a girl operating a book mobile
• A Dish of Stinging Nettles – a man and woman find themselves connecting over making a dish of stinging nettles
• Everywhen – a man finds an item that reminds him of a former love but find he only has a memory
• Recapture – a woman looking for a site with a partner is seduced into a relationship with a local and ends up staying.
Overall, the collection thematically connects how people relate artifacts in their lives. Many of the tales are slightly futuristic. Readers of science fiction, fantasy, romance, and westerns might well enjoy these tales.
About the reviewer: Sheri Fresonke Harper is a poet and writer. She’s been published in many small journals and is working on her second science fiction novel. See www.sfharper.com.