Disappointed that the town’s children’s talent show was not competitive, and so did not crown her son the winner, Mrs. Parker holds her own talent show with a trio of judges. The winner is a surprise, though not as surprising as the effect it has on the town’s mothers, who decide to hold their own talent show that showcases their own baffling and disturbing gifts.
There’s an unsettling, uncomfortable mood that runs through the whole story. Told in the first person plural as a sort of chorus, the mothers are largely indistinguishable, until the third talent show happens. This feels a bit like a Shirley Jackson story in its ominous mood – at every turn I was expected something dark to happen, and often there are subtly disquieting moments, like the ventriloquist act, that let us know that we’re in a world that isn’t quite the one we live in, though perhaps it intersects our own in a few places. This sits somewhere in that interstitial space between literary and horror fiction, weird and not quite resolved.