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WesternSFA
The Anything Box
by Zenna Henderson
Copyright 1965, 205pp
In case you never knew, Zenna Henderson was a school teacher in Arizona . I’ve always loved her stories. I always felt sorta cozy and familiar with her; maybe because she used Arizona in her stories and that where I live; but that’s not all of it. It was more that her stories were so close to the heart. Her POVs were so ordinary, so normal, so like us – you and me. Or, at least, the me I wish I was. Hers always find wonder and faith and belief. I wish she’d written more.

This is a collection of fourteen short stories. The title story is tender and sweet and heart-tugging; a gentle story. A far cry from “Hush”, the kind of story that keeps you awake for a long time thinking, “what if….?” Oh, and then there’s “Food For All Flesh” – I don’t even know what to say about this one that won’t give it all away. And you really, really need to read that one. How does an ordinary man continue his ordinary life after such an encounter?

“The Substitute” will make you think a bit. About what-ifs, and loyalty. Loyalty to the human race, that is. And the one titled “And a Little Child….” made me long for the open-minded wonder that children have and lose so soon. But the only reason they can do what they do and believe what they do is because they don’t know they can’t. That’s why we grown-ups can’t; we’ve forgotten and now we’re scared.

And the last story…well, all I can say about that one is that it haunts me. I read it the first time probably 30 years and I don’t think I can forget it. It’s rather horrible and tends to make one feel rather helpless. Helpless in the face of one who’s bigger and stronger and helpless in the face of knowledge – knowing what is coming and knowing that you’re responsible, and knowing that no amount of regret or take-backs will change a thing. ~~ Catherine Book

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