Sunday, April 28, 2013

May We Shed These Human Bodies: Stories by Amber Sparks

It's hard to categorize the brief, surprising stories in Amber Sparks' collection. The title story, May We Shed These Human Bodies, is a creation fable, a lament in the first-person-plural voices of trees who have been turned into humans. Never-never is a melancholy retelling of Peter Pan told in multiple viewpoints. All the imaginary people are better at life is surrealist contemporary fiction:

   "Ruby can't stop driving, because if she stops she'll be somewhere. If she's somewhere, she'll be real. All the Ruby atoms in the vicinity will come to a screeching halt in the general shape of her. Then she'll have to deal with all of the issues real people deal with.
   No thank you.
   Caleb, her imaginary best friend, calls on the space wires from Chicago to complain about the weather. The best part about Caleb is that he has a direct line into her head so she doesn't incur any long distance charges."

(In a strange coincidence, when I read All the imaginary people are better at life, I had just read a blog post from someone in Chicago who was complaining about the terrible weather they have been having.)

The stories are odd... in the best possible way. There's a great blurb from Ben Loory on the back of the book: "I always love a book that makes me fear for the writer's sanity." This may not always be true for me, but in the case of Amber Sparks, I agree with Loory.

Readalikes: Suddenly, a Knock on the Door (Etgar Keret); Vampires in the Lemon Grove (Karen Russell); Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People (Douglas Coupland) and Anthropology (Dan Rhodes).

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