A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Saturday Shorts Week 28
Welcome to our weekend series for 2014. Every Saturday this year one of our staff will suggest a favorite short story from the library’s collection, all of them a great choice for quick weekend reading.
The priests have blessed the air, so she cannot breathe it, and blessed the rocks, so that she cannot sit on them. But the sea no man can bless, because it is too big, and always changing. Therefore she lives in the sea.
In “The Story of the Siren” a local Sicilian shares the harrowing story of his brother Giuseppe with a curious tourist. Some years ago a vacationing Englishman goaded young Giuseppe into diving to the sea floor for a two lira piece of silver. While deep in the water Giuseppe saw the local legend—the demonic siren—and had to be hauled out barely breathing. He was never the same again.
The aftermath of Giuseppe’s strange vision is unnerving, but not supernatural. It might be embodied by the siren, but the evil in this tale is enacted through the deluded mass hysteria of the little Sicilian village.
It’s a great story—one of Forster’s most beautifully written—and stands out among his other Mediterranean tales with its darker, foreboding tone. “The Story of the Siren” is well worth checking out, and while you’re at it try Forster’s “The Curate’s Friend” to see his take on a slightly more traditional horror tale.
Review by Matthew