The Whimper of Whipped Dogs • 1973 • magical realism short story by Harlan Ellison


Meta: isfdb. This magical realism short story appeared 1973 in Disch’s anthology Bad Moon Rising. It won the 1974 Edgar Allan Poe Award.

Synopsis:  Dance choreographer Beth didn’t live long in New York City she witnesses the brutal slaying of a woman in the courtyard of her apartment complex. Other tenants witness the event smiling and in silence from their windows and balconies. This starts a weird story including mystical fog and a neighborship god. One night she finds a burglar in her apartment, and she has to make a choice.

Review:  The plot was inspired by the notorious murder of Kitty Genovese in New York’s in Queens on March 13, 1964. 38 of her neighbors watched her being attacked and stabbed for more than half an hour, but nobody moved to help her. Ellison surrounds this incident with a magical realism context because the reality couldn’t be properly explained otherwise. After all those years it is very contemporary, nothing has changed: constant violance in the media, bystand to watch accidents. A very intense story with an acute sense of urban alienation not for the faint-hearted.

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