Apr 10, 2012

Salute Your Shorts: Mouse Koan by Catherynne M. Valente

Salute Your Shorts feature image from Bunbury in the Stacks
Salute Your Shorts is a weekly (ish) feature here at Bunbury in the Stacks highlighting and reviewing short stories and novellas. Everyone is welcome to join at any time, just grab the pic above and shoot me a link in the comments so that I can include your post in a roundup.

author Catherynne M. Valente  Title: Mouse Koan [Tor.com]
  Author: Catherynne M. Valente [Website|Twitter]
  Standing: It’s a poem!
  Genre: Poetry, Fantasy
  Published: April 2nd, 2012 on Tor.com (it’s possible it exists in print somewhere else that I’m   unaware of).
  Format: Web post; short and sweet! 
Featured on Tor.com

Contrary to what you may have heard
it is possible
to sate a trickster.
                              It only takes the whole world.

Soooooo…I’m not much for poetry.  In fact, you’ll hear me complain when guys in books are into things like poetry because I think it’s lame.  BUT.  But.  There are exceptions to every rule.  I’ve read a lot of Neil Gaiman’s poetry in his short story collections, and I even like some classics like Lady of Shallot, and poems that have inspired some great books like Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.  If it’s a story, I’m much more likely to read and enjoy it.  Since it’s National Poetry Month, I figured that I should suck it up and read a poem.  Luckily, Tor is celebrating by posting poems by Sci Fi and Fantasy authors, so when I saw Cat Valente’s name pop up, I had to read it and share it with those of you who may have missed it!

Mouse Koan is a quick read that’s worth the time for an ever-mystifying view into Cat Valente’s mind.  I love the way this woman puts words together and paints the world.  The poem is told in two parts.  Part one is somewhat of a creation story, telling of the birth of multitudes of gods, including one particular trickster god—a nameless mouse.  The second part is spoken by the mouse god himself, telling of his triumph and downfall as a trickster, worming his way into all of our lives as the face of Disney.  The trickster wins by being everywhere, but realizes that the commonplace existence has made him invisible.

I’m sure there’s a lot to be read into this poem about Disney, Mickey Mouse, corporations, and consumption, but I chose to just enjoy it.  Cat Valente has a way with words that is entirely magical, and entirely her own, and I certainly recommend you take 5-10 minutes to check out Mouse Koan.


  1. Great feature today! I'm such a fan of Catherynne M. Valente. Thanks for the link to her poem.

    1. Thanks Catie, hope you enjoy it! I love her, I really need to read more, I've wanted to pick up Palimpsest for years.


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