cover image Mother Walked into the Lake

Mother Walked into the Lake

Alana I. Capria. Kernpunkt, $14.99 trade paper (97p) ISBN 978-0-9972924-5-9

Even at novella length, this psychological horror piece is too long, overloading the reader with repetitive vignettes piled on top of one another. Though Capria (Hooks and Slaughterhouse) presumably intends the narrative to be a dark, twisted allegory of motherhood, it feels purposeless, an aimless and fuguelike montage of visceral, disgusting images. The narrator and her siblings, named only Sister and Brother and rarely distinguished as individuals, perform a blood ritual in their grief over their mother’s suicide by drowning. It brings them back a mother who is “dead, then alive again, but in a way that was wrong to be”; she is “not the Mother we wanted.” Mother is a feral parody of a parent, covered in rust, algae, blood, vomit, and slime that rots the house around her. She’s hungry and autocannibalistic, alternately chasing and lurking. Occasional explicit moments of consideration of women’s roles, such as a sequence in which the children ask Mother to tell their birth stories and one in which the narrator fears her own fertility, feel unrelatable and out of place in the midst of the oozing, violent imagery. There’s no clear target audience for this unpleasant bit of grotesquerie. (Dec.)