Review of "My Grandfather's Skeleton," a short story by Kiyash Monsef
A short slice of near-future Americana about a boy, his missing grandfather, and a robotic exoskeleton.
This story left me feeling, for the most part, literarily satisfied. Monsef’s writing is good, drawing the reader in and presenting a well crafted short story about life and death and the way our relationships are affected by them. Both the grandfather and the grandson are realistic characters that the reader cares about almost instantly. The plot is well paced and interesting, if somewhat predictable. Presented by a lesser writer, this story could have been overly saccharine. However, Monsef’s skill keeps the heartwarming nature of the piece respectably subtle. The only problem with this story, and to me it’s a big one, is the skeleton.
The skeleton plays a pivotal role in the story, almost becoming a character itself. Perhaps it’s just the prejudice of my archaeological background, but I had a hard time disassociating “skeleton” from what is clearly a “Skeleton.” Even once the reader realizes what the skeleton actually is, it takes several pages of sporadic descriptors for Monsef to craft an image of the contraption. This is problematic in the short story world, where the engagement of the reader must be secured by the end of the first few paragraphs. The skeleton is an original idea and clearly important to the plot of the story, but for this reviewer, Monsef’s lack of clarifying details detracts from its power.
Reviewed by Aubrey Bennet