Review: Bedtime Snacks for Baby by Catherine George

Review of Bedtime Snacks for Baby by Catherine George (993 words)
Flash Fiction Online, May 2019 Issue : Read Online

I read this halfway, then I went back to the top and started reading it again. I did this twice. An absolutely beautiful story, and I'm posting this review on Mother's Day! Quite fitting, I suppose.

This is an extremely well written story, and Catherine George manages to build a wonderful world in this short format. I was intrigued by the use of placeholder words from the very beginning of the story. The fact that words aren't mentioned, but rather a description of the thing in itself. For example, the word cat is replaced throughout the story by [word for domesticated feline]

As the story progresses, the reasoning becomes clearer, and also slightly terrifying. The child literally eats words. A spoken word takes shape, and the child eats it. And then those words cease to exist, globally.

I will say that the incident in itself would seem terrifying to people, yes. The reason it comes across as slightly terrifying is due to the reactions of the mothers. Yes, it is a matter of concern. Yes, there are wide-reaching repercussions for what is transpiring. Yet for all that, it is not big enough to combat parental love. For the mothers this is absolutely worth it, and any effect on their lives or that of the world in general, is secondary. Till the very end of the story, they continue to believe it is worth it. 

It's illuminating the attitudes that form - not just for the world within the story, but also of the motherly instinct in general. Another thing that stood out for me was that the thing itself doesn't cease to exist, only the word for it. And that's what makes it okay. Maybe with a limited vocabulary, people will try to explain themselves better instead of taking the easy way out. But it was the fact that they will only ever be able to say [the word for a female parent] was what made it utterly heartbreaking.

At the end of it all, it's just love that they want, and love that they give so generously to their word eating child.


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