A poetic and purposefully perverse collection of stories that describes a dystopian world only slightly divergent from our...


In this collection, Parkison (The Petals of Your Eyes, 2014, etc.) makes absurd that which is commonplace by twisting it into abnormality.

Lyrical and often abstract, these seemingly linked stories call attention to the grotesque in modern society. This book is filled with scenarios that are as ridiculous as they are familiar: a woman drinks a tall, cold glass of milk with dinner and works on a hidden-camera investigation about the cruelty of cows—that is, ferocious cows beating and mistreating farmers; an unidentified narrator offers tips for securing your collection of used condoms against the threat of used-condom thieves; an industry of turning children’s eyes into valuable jewels makes it possible for a rich woman to hire a blue-eyed 14-year-old girl and a green-eyed man to procreate in order to harvest the eyes of their offspring. These stories, distorted and often disgusting, draw attention to the hypocrisy and deviance not only in the world of these characters, but in our own as well. Perhaps the most prevalent signifier of this trope is meat. A mother fanatically insists on the importance of meat, an aunt decorates a corpse in hamburger. The subjects of this collection have a fast-food addiction so acute that they can’t help but be hungry for “Mack-Dawn-A-Dolls” even in the most horrifying situations—for example, when witnessing a man pleasure himself while trespassing on a porch as he eats a hamburger or, worse yet, when a “serial killer/serial rapist” douses a severe flesh burn with condiments, pickles, onions, and cheese. Throughout the collection, this sort of revolting imagery is coupled with poetic prose, further emphasizing the unsightly, the absurd. Parkison’s language is flowery and figurative: “Love child to love child, their velvet lust was like yours—a relic, liminal, yet contagious like consumption.” Although both the message and the writing are sometimes heavy-handed, it is effective. One is moved equally by the lyricism and repulsiveness and can find beauty in both.

A poetic and purposefully perverse collection of stories that describes a dystopian world only slightly divergent from our own.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-57366-060-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: FC2/Univ. of Alabama

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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This is good Hemingway. It has some of the tenderness of A Farewell to Arms and some of its amazing power to make one feel inside the picture of a nation at war, of the people experiencing war shorn of its glamor, of the emotions that the effects of war — rather than war itself — arouse. But in style and tempo and impact, there is greater resemblance to The Sun Also Rises. Implicit in the characters and the story is the whole tragic lesson of Spain's Civil War, proving ground for today's holocaust, and carrying in its small compass, the contradictions, the human frailties, the heroism and idealism and shortcomings. In retrospect the thread of the story itself is slight. Three days, during which time a young American, a professor who has taken his Sabbatical year from the University of Montana to play his part in the struggle for Loyalist Spain and democracy. He is sent to a guerilla camp of partisans within the Fascist lines to blow up a strategic bridge. His is a complex problem in humanity, a group of undisciplined, unorganized natives, emotionally geared to go their own way, while he has a job that demands unreasoning, unwavering obedience. He falls in love with a lovely refugee girl, escaping the terrors of a fascist imprisonment, and their romance is sharply etched against a gruesome background. It is a searing book; Hemingway has done more to dramatize the Spanish War than any amount of abstract declamation. Yet he has done it through revealing the pettinesses, the indignities, the jealousies, the cruelties on both sides, never glorifying simply presenting starkly the belief in the principles for which these people fought a hopeless war, to give the rest of the world an interval to prepare. There is something of the implacable logic of Verdun in the telling. It's not a book for the thin-skinned; it has more than its fill of obscenities and the style is clipped and almost too elliptical for clarity at times. But it is a book that repays one for bleak moments of unpleasantness.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0684803356

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1940

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