The River by Jeff Fearnside, Crab Orchard Review

This is a short piece, maybe even a vignette, that is a story within a story. The narrator is a young woman who recounts story her uncle told her long ago, one that takes place in the soviet union. In the recounted story a young woman wears chadra and tries to cross a river. She is weighed down so much by her clothing that she drowns. The narrator identifies with this woman, as she says, they are much alike, though the girl in the story is Muslim.

The narrator goes on to relate how the weight of the chadra is much like the weight of our society. It is sandwiched in among descriptions, but at its core, this piece shows how the garments we wear dictate our place within our culture.

The fact that this woman drowned due to her chadra, is symbolic of her cultural capital in the era in which she lived. The narrator identifies with this, as she feels trapped/drowning in metaphorical ways.

A short piece that accomplishes a lot and is well written. (C+)

2 thoughts on “The River by Jeff Fearnside, Crab Orchard Review

  1. Hi, Alex. Thanks very much for this insightful review of my short story “The River.” You got exactly what I was aiming for. It’s a short piece, nearly a flash fiction, and I did work a lot into it, but it felt like the right form to me; I wanted it to have something of a magical realist feeling while still addressing historical issues in another time and country that are just as relevant today in our own, to show how these can weigh us down while also offering up some measure of hope in how identities can blend. I see that you’re shopping around your debut novel, which you describe as having magical realist elements to it. Good luck with that! I’ll be looking with interest for your work. ~ Jeff Fearnside


    1. Hi Jeff! Thanks for reaching out. It’s always a treat when I get a bit of contact with an author I’ve read.
      Yes, I enjoyed your piece a lot, I love short works that pack so much in; The River certainly did that.

      Thanks for reaching out.


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