Six Ways of Looking at Roadkill


The Death of the Motherless Kitten”

Huang Kaishan

NEON Literary Magazine, Issue 38.

Have you read any of those “10 Ways of Looking at…” poems? You know the type: each piece of the poem has a slightly different view or context for a particular object. Anyone who’s taken a creative writing class is probably familiar with this form, and probably is aware that most pieces of this ilk pretty much suck. (Diagram, in fact, refuses to read any piece with this premise, according to their Submission Guidelines.)

But this story does not suck. In fact, it is a beautiful, brutal, deeply felt story, its power coming from its structure as a “Six Ways of Looking at…” type of piece. This story proves that the form can work, and work well, with a good deal of imagination and a high emotional stake.

This piece is like the German indie hit Run Lola Run in that it explores a number of different narrative possibilities branching out from one inciting moment, one initial scene or experience. I won’t spoil any of this piece other than to point out the obvious, which is that the central “object” here is the kitten–the motherless, smashed-on-the-pavement kitten.

Fair warning: this is a difficult story to read. It contains, as you might have gathered, a good deal of inadvertent kitten violence. Some may find this kitten violence too upsetting. (Why do I find it more upsetting to read about a maimed or killed animal than to read about an adult human in a similar predicament? Is it the innocence of the animal in question that makes its agony so hard to read about? Probably. Probably it’s a matter of innocence.)

That’s all I have to say about “The Death of the Motherless Kitten.” Go read this kick-ass story.

Read the story in Neon #38.

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