The Tree Is My Hat • 1999 • Horror novelette by Gene Wolfe

★★★★

Synopsis

The narrator Baden, an American government employee, slowly recovering from a malaria-like illness, makes friends with native Polynesians on some Southsea island. The natives worship a shark god who turns up as a kind of therianthropy in the form of a human dwarf „Hanga“. Soon, the narrator also befriends the shark god, even as a bloodfriend. But gods expect prices paid for their friendship.

Review

The title could be one of Harlan Ellison’s famous story titles. Once again, we meet a unreliable narrator: Baden’s illness causes him to hallucinate during fever attacks. We also don’t know what exactly is true, what is left out from the series of first person journal entries, and where Baden simply is wrong or lies. I personally tend to believe that Baden himself thinks that what he writes down is the truth. The story is dark with some Lovecraftian undertones and bizarre. I really liked it.

 

Meta: isfdb. This magical realism novelette by Gene Wolfe was published 1999 in 999: New Tales of Horror and Suspense. I read it as part of the collection The Best of Gene Wolfe.

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