A Modern Fable: “I Never Liked You Anyway,” by Jordan Kurella
Jordan Kurella’s novella is a modern fable constructed around the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Other prominent characters include Hades, Persephone, Odysseus, Penelope, Andromeda and Aristaeus. The story bounces back and forth between a modern day university, a music department, and the nether world of Hades, the Greek version of Hell.
Eurydice and Penelope are in Hades, which means they are both dead, and we are drawn into the backstory of Eurydice, Orpheus, Andromeda and Aristaeus, all graduate students in the music department. We know, of course, the Greek story, so we want to discover how these modern day variants of the characters behave and how Eurydice dies. The whole fable consists of a set of relationships: Orpheus and Eurydice, of course, but also a lesbian relationship between Eurydice and Andromeda, a gay relationship between Orpheus and Aristaeus, a woman-woman more than friendship between Eurydice and Penelope in the afterlife, and the hetero relationship between Hades and Persephone in the afterlife. The relationships play off each other in a complex interleaving, underlining the challenges found when love is mixed with other emotions such as pride, ego, rage, etc.
I found the story to be luminous, and very funny, but ultimately struck through with an unlooked-for depth that astonished me. I learned how love and gender are intertwined in unexpected ways, and came away from the reading experience changed, as a result. This for me is the sign of truly great writing. I Never Liked You Anyway has been nominated for a Nebula award in the novella category, so I am not the only person who likes it! Its author is a trans man who has a generous heart; someone I admire for other reasons as well. I highly recommend his book to you.