Tanith Lee's Disturbed by Her Song is a linked collection of stories by Tanith Lee, writing as and with Esther Garber and Judas Garbah. The introduction explains how this curious relationship works and provides an intriguing opening for the collection, laying the ground for the coming tricks and evasions when it comes to such matters as identity and time. The theme of love, and particularly erotic love, runs through the stories, love the light shining through the prism of youth and age - innocence, loss and regret - and love's ability to illuminate, inspire and shape, even when it is unrequited, painful or lost.
The collection contains nine stories, set in various times and various settings, including Paris, Egypt and England. Each place is beautifully evoked, and as you would expect from Lee, the writing is exquisite. Variously lush, wry, tender, moving, darkly surreal, deliciously erotic, the stories possess some of the tropes of fantastic fiction (a maybe ghost, a possible werewolf) but it isn't a fantasy collection per se. Instead, as in Angela Carter's fiction, intrusions of the strange and unearthly seem to be perceptions skewed by wishing, memory and desire, as though the internal landscape of dreams and fantasies drift into the mundane world - a 'real' world already coloured by the whims and wishes of the one-step-away minds of Garber and Garbah.
Lee's writing is rigorously intelligent. In this collection, I responded particularly also to the strong undercurrent of compassion, and especially compassion for the indignities and losses associated with age,as in the stories 'Black-eyes Susan' and 'Fleurs en Hiver'.
Disturbed By Her Song far transcends any needless compartmentalisation as fantasy fiction, or gay fiction - it is a rare gem, a beautiful, puzzling, fabulous collection by a writer at the height of her powers. It deserves widespread, serious attention. Yes I love it - highly recommended.