In this collection of seven speculative short stories, Kelleher’s (Love’s Labyrinth, 2015, etc.) characters magically abduct celebrities, put their elderly parents up for adoption, consider cyborg enhancement, and more.
In “Free to Good Home,” Marvin wonders what his life would be like with a different mother, one who doesn’t burn the gefilte fish or wander off to strip clubs. Luckily, his near-future society acknowledges that “just because someone gave birth to us, it doesn’t mean you’re a good long-term fit.” But he’s never considered whether his mother would be just as pleased with a different son. In “After the Rapture,” Bess and her wife, Kitty, wake up after the collapse of the world as they knew it—a common motif in fiction these days, though Kelleher intriguingly suggests that those left behind might be better off. “Enhanced” takes place in a world where professional athletes are more machine than human, and parents who never lived up to their own dreams of stardom sacrifice their children to be rebuilt. And the four stories in the “Celebrity Supernatural” series examine our obsession with actors and musicians from various angles: in “Conjuring Johnny Depp,” a witch tries to give her friend a birthday present she’ll never forget; “Finding Southside Johnny” gives a middle-aged guitar player gets a second chance to live the life he always wanted; and in “Raising Jerry Garcia,” aging potheads on the Jersey Shore try to bring back to life the Grateful Dead frontman through math and music in the aftermath of a hurricane. Finally, “Walking with Elvis” portrays a town whose citizens have given up more than they know for their utopic existence. Kelleher is a skilled writer whose stories begin in worlds fully formed, fleshed out through dialogue and character rather than clumsy exposition. And she knows how to hold back details and leave readers wanting more, especially in “Walking with Elvis” and the idyllic but celebrity-zombie-ridden village of Stanton’s Fall.
Entertaining slice-of-life tales from lives just to the left of reality.