In Carlson’s debut short story, a woman travels to the Big Easy and embarks on an affair with a mysterious stranger.
The story opens with Nátalia, a restless, sensual freelance filmmaker with an independent streak, reminiscing about her childhood in Brazil. Later, she visits New Orleans for work, channeling her “inner panther” as she wanders the city’s streets. She first meets a friendly African couple and then an alluring stranger, “Mr. Blue-Eyes,” who is “the perfect mix of gorgeous and sense of humor.” She develops an instant, intense connection with him: “It was as if our energies knew each other, we were like animals to call, loyal as wolves and romantic as swans.” At first, Nátalia is content to view the encounter as a one-night stand, but when a hurricane strands her in Louisiana, she resumes the fling, which seems poised to develop into something more. Readers will likely be drawn into this brief but evocative tale of a woman’s passionate, unexpected romance. Through her narrator’s unique voice, Carlson infuses what might have been a bland, predictable encounter with meaning and portent. But although Nátalia’s zest for life is intoxicating, the story seems unfinished; its brevity leaves little room for plot or character development, and the sexy lover doesn’t even get a name. Occasional typos and grammatical errors also distract (“airing” for “erring”; “it’s” for “its”), particularly in such an economical story, and the rambling narration sometimes makes it difficult to determine what’s happening in the narrator’s head and what’s taking place in the real world. That said, readers seeking to get lost in a fantasy about a whirlwind affair will find that this story delivers.
A sexy, dreamlike tale that will likely leave its readers wanting more.