Recommended Reading: “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” by Cat Rambo

I don’t usually fangirl like this. I hope you’ll forgive me, but I just can’t help myself this time. (Actually, I’ve long wanted to begin a regular feature on this blog, writing public fan letters to my favorite writers. Maybe this could be the impromptu inauguration of that tradition. Fan Letter Friday, anyone?)

Anyway. “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” by Cat Rambo. Whoa. I can’t believe I’ve had this story in my possession since Worldcon in Chicago and not read it until tonight! I can’t believe it’s been available free online since Christmas Eve, and Cat said she felt it was her best story this year (and I’ve loved so so many of Cat’s stories), and even then, I still only just got around to it. In my defense I’ve been swamped. I had to retreat to the bathtub with the book to finally make time to read it. But I wish I’d read it months ago. I want to read it again, right now.

I loved this story SO much. I want to say that I love it so much I have no words, the way people sometimes do, but it’s not true at all. I have tons of things I want to say. About how the first page or two made me think perhaps this one wasn’t going to be a story I’d love, probably wasn’t really going to be my kind of story at all but that was okay I’d read it anyway. After all, I can enjoy a story that’s well-told even if I don’t fall in love with it. But then it snuck up on me, made me sit up out of my bathwater at the end, my heart beating fast and almost painfully because of a thing I didn’t see coming. Because some lessons in life—my life anyway—have to be learned over and over and over again, apparently.

I don’t know why I was so surprised.

Cat’s done this to me before with other stories. She has this way of writing things—situations and characters—that feel so true, almost more true than real life sometimes, as if the stories are a distillation of real world experience, sort of like perfumes or essential oils, and I want to stick them under people’s noses. “Smell this! It’s so intense! So good!” and “I know this feeling! Do you? People are really like that, aren’t they? That really happens! Have you felt this emotion too? She gets it exactly right, doesn’t she? Amazing!”

But I can’t have these conversations with people unless they’ve read the stories too, particularly because I can’t ever seem to summarize Cat’s stories to anyone and do them justice. I certainly couldn’t do it for this one. All I can do is tell people to read it. Read it.

I have more I want to say, but I don’t want to spoil the story for those few folks who are likely to read this post. Go read Cat’s story “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain.” Read it all the way to the end. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. I read it in her collection Near + Far, but you can read it on her website here.

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  1. I just finished reading it — was in my to-read-for-awards queue — and you are so right! Cat’s incredibly skilled at communicating the essence of a particular feeling/emotion/experience.

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