A Lucky Man was one of the best books of fiction I read, and then some, in the year of its debut. Brinkley can illuminate and expose seemingly any corner of humanity, with equal compassion and precision. His writing is so powerful and graceful at once that it feels balletic, with a dancer's way of making an incredible feat seem simple and easy.
Funny, dark and often absurd, this debut collection of short stories from the creator of the hit animated series "BoJack Horseman" is a winner. There is heartbreak aplenty, a door into a parallel universe and a theme park, featuring the U.S. presidents with large foam heads. But for me, the goat-infused wedding at the heart of "A Most Blessed and Auspicious Occasion" was itself worth the price of admission.
Small investment, big payoff. Aickman has long been an undervalued and out of print author but is now experiencing a small revival, and this novelette is an ideal place to start. Like much of Aickman, "The Inner Room" is an entrancing seduction, an impossible mystery, and a melancholy siren song. Here memory, psychology, and the external world overlap and confound one another. This is neo-romanticism at its best, shrugging aside the mundane to expose a secret entrance to unfathomable and hazardous depths. Though often characterized as "horror," it's much better to label such Aickman stories as literary dark fantasy--or to use his own term: "strange stories."
The epigraph of Edwidge Danticat's new story collection generously claims that everyone experiences diaspora, as we are exiled from our mother's body as soon as we are born. What follows are stories that strive to prove its' universality with equal attention to tenderness and brutality. In this collection that lingers on family and death, she has tapped directly into the core of human experience. This book will make you cry, probably in public, so prepare accordingly.
Do you like the Twilight Zone? Of course you do. But you might not know Richard Matheson. And you should, because arguably the most iconic episodes were adapted from his masterfully-written short fiction. Each story is so tightly crafted as to border on pulp, each ending twists with a stinger that demands your return. If I'm on a plane: 1) I have a Richard Matheson collection in my carry on and 2) I'm not going to look at the wing of the plane. Yeah. He wrote that.
Maybe you already know her short story "Cat Person," which captured a modern feeling—one that has barely begun to be put in print—so well I felt it in my body. There's more of those sickeningly visceral moments in this collection. The stories feel like urban legends stretched into something else, something you feel in the pit of your stomach and taste at the back of your mouth.
Zweig here captures two striking truths. First, the transition from child to adult comes not by steady gradualism but in catalytic episodes in which the membrane between the two worlds thins by means of betrayal, violence (emotional and otherwise), and critical acts of independence. Second, a shocking number of life's Big Moments would entirely resemble cheap melodrama if not for the transmuting--almost alchemical--effect these moments initiate deep in the souls of innocent parties who are snared in the drama's orbit. A compulsive read!
Chris Power made his literary bones as a critic, writing the long-running series "A Brief Survey of the Short Story" for the Guardian. It's no surprise, then, that the stories in his debut collection are marked by a quiet mastery of the form, as assured as it is unassuming. They tend to center on characters who could be described as searchers: travelers and tourists driven by mysterious motives, looking to cure some elusive lack in their lives. All this enigma rewards careful reading; the more you strain to understand these variously broken people, the more apparent the quality of the prose becomes. And as if all that wasn't enough, the book gets extra credit for having one of my favorite dust jacket designs in recent memory.
Once you start in on "the Finkelstein 5", you will not be able to put this down. This story will grab you, enrage you, and break you while you chant along in a radical cry for justice. Adjei-Brenyah's voice rings powerful and true throughout this collection of stories. Satirical, heartbreaking, and violent stories set just within reach of "dystopian", but oh so relevant today.
Tales From the Inner City is short story collection by the beloved artist Shaun Tan, where crocodiles live on the 87th floor, men turn into frogs, and snails fall in love. His world is our world slightly altered by small detail. Through Tan's unique imagination and breathtaking art, he investigates our deeply relational coexistence with animals. They occupy our imagination in fantastic and ordinary ways (just like his stories). I haven't been able to shake the otherworldly fugue I encountered in Tales from the Inner City and I think everyone will enjoy dipping their toes in Tan's stories.