9 thoughts on “The Harvest Child and Other Fantasies – Steve Rasnic Tem


    “; I can still remember the lopsided corners and the way the boards met off-angle in places, as if the wind had thrown them there and by some natural process they’d just grown together.”

    And later the wind (fake tornado or not) took the eponymous harvest girl away. I remember I wrote a poem in the 1960s called ‘A Dust Bowl Romance’, a now long lost poem, come home to roost at last, not that it was really anything like this captivating story of a legend in those early to mid-century dust bowl days in Kansas. Of the arrival by the eponymous girl, and of two brothers, one (the narrator who again yearns for the fruits of such a legend in his later life working in Somalia) to whom she became a friend or sister, and the other brother, Jack, to whom she became a potential sweetheart, amid the generational suspicions, fears and, yes, hopes of the prevailing kinship between those Kansas people, a kinship deepened by a family nucleus such as the one surrounding these two brothers. The advent — almost religious, certainly magical — of the eponymous girl betokened, it was said, things getting worse before they got better. That is a telling emblem for most of our lives, I somehow paradoxically manage to hope as well as fear. The story helps.
    And, oh yes, the family’s father named the eponymous girl after his own sister who had died of croup. Yes, croup, not crop.


    “He was constantly changing the formulae of his paints in an attempt to come up with the mixtures which would develop or deteriorate at a rate reminiscent of his models.”

    A story about change that IS change. Like the painter with his paints, this author has geared his words — about the painter himself, his paints and parents, and much more that it would spoil you to divulge — geared them to the utterly beauteous ever-changing of the story itself. Nowhere else will you find such a Zeno’s Paradox of a Literary Alchemy. You won’t know for sure till you read its ‘found ingredients’….

    “You never know someone until you drink tea with them!”


    “If Annie had written a story about herself, that’s the way she would have begun it.”

    One of the most moving accounts of life and death I think I might ever have read – through the eyes, for me, of another sort of harvest child as she watches old people somehow harvest their own lives, like putting their things back into the ground, folding up their cherished belongings, as well as actually replanting themselves…


    “Ye stay away from strangers—ye never know if they be hiding a brollachan inside!”

    Like its title, a strangely ‘broken’ story, without gaps between the breaks in the version I have just read, to warn the reader of a change in viewpoint or in timeline. A story of a mother and her daughter, and that mother’s own mother, and the legends of what was told by one of them about the outside inimical forces that came into you, or that went out of you. The story sort of sits within me now, or is that just my imagination? Or the story’s?


    The timeline machinations of someone meeting older versions of himself, and their capability for changing things determining the ability to do this at all without breaking any Whovian rules. A telling glance at life, with marriage likened to a hardening washcloth and existence itself just a choice of condiments for food. My personal concern about all this is the possibility of losing the television set, while still in possession of its remote control… and one may need to go back a longer period than erstwhile, to discover whether this story ever deserved to became a seminal work about Time Philosophy, and thus multi-anthologised and taught in schools. Five years is not long enough. Transcending the harvest child in all of us.


    “And certainly the famous were possessed of a kind of divinity. Eddie did not pretend to understand the machinery of that divinity, but he had faith it could be learned, and that anything, including chance, could be manipulated toward that end.”

    Following that Carl Paradox, this is an appropriate hilarious satire. Or is it? Hilarious, yes, appropriate, yes, but a satire? A man who wants to be famous even with the name Eddie. Abandoning his family of wife and kids, and gradually ignoring his day job, for the blue-sky thinking of making a mark on the world that, paradoxically, in his mind, is for the sake of that very family as well as himself. I, too, was in insurance, before going through exactly this process. But who had ever heard of an icon with the name Des!

    “The world had had its Napoleon, its Einstein, and its Madonna. He intended to deliver its Eddie.”

    And then one day, nearly two decades ago, I published a blank story. Which led to this my plan of a plan, a requirement rather than a goal, a drive for personal gestalt…

    And, oh, Eddie, how do I achieve your muscles?

    “…peeking at the individual files randomly, and then with furious thoroughness, as file after file appeared to be blank, or full of gibberish, or consisted of apparently random words and images copied from various internet sites,…”


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