In "A Doll's Tale", a little girl receives a beautiful doll as a gift...a doll far prettier than she. She didn't like it, and so "confused by this feeling-for Astrid was a kind and gentle being-her ambivalence became a kind of devotion." Her true feelings are revealed when she dumps it down a laundry chute. However, the loss of it soon leaves her lonely, and she invents an invisible-friend. There's no joy there, as the 'friend' suddenly disappears. A painfully memorable picture is created when her and her father drive around, looking for the beloved invisible friend:
"This second loss proved too much for her, really. Doll-less, invisible friend-less, finally more comfortable in fear than in gladness, Astrid began to live in her head...To outsiders, this...lent her a remarkably pleasing air, since she never had reason to interrupt anyone's talking."
The stories, while diverse and mysterious, all contain a theme of the loss of innocence. And the source of such loss seems to be the a child's view of the world where an active imagination and lack of experience create troubling and sometimes dangerous visions. Sometimes the simplest words can create a landscape of horror.
Special thanks to Esther Porter of Coffee House Press for the Review Copy.