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.