Cederborg’s debut reads like a dream journal of mystical tales, poetry and nonfiction essays that reflect her Danish culture.
Three sections make up this thin volume: “Fantastic Tales, Fables and Stories of Realities Beyond Reality,” “Poems,” and “The Weird World of Reality: Ezine-Articles.” The author’s brief tales—the longest of which runs six pages—range from the terrifying to the enchanted, from a spirit who visits a young widow to impregnate her with the Antichrist to a congress of African animals that discusses the barbarity of humans. In one tale, a man on a train attacks a newspaper with scissors, leaving behind a “slaughterhouse” of the “severed facial traits of celebrities.” In the next, an underdeveloped giraffe named Oliver learns to triumph from his shortcomings. In another, an orphan named Sylvia challenges “Mr. Reaper Mortuus” and eventually banishes him with a swift blow of her Barbie doll. One part Hans Christian Anderson—whom Cederbourg references often, including a short, compelling essay on the author’s “discarded sister”—and one part Aesop’s fables, with a little bit of O. Henry thrown in, Cederborg’s stories read as if transcribed from someone speaking a halting, overly formal English—which suits a few of the more bizarre tales well but can confuse the reader. Overall, the book is incohesive and unfocused. The stories are rife with redundancies—at one point, a narrator writes of “a quite handsome and also nice-looking man.” The book also contains numerous typos and simple mistakes. In the essay, “When Women Were Punished for Being Women,” Cederborg confuses “loose” with “lose” in two different contexts within the same paragraph, when she discusses “lose” women not being “let lose” from an island prison in Denmark. The poetry that fills out the center is economical but undisciplined and unremarkable. The essays, or “e-zine articles,” that close the book contain some mysterious facts and myths from the characters of Cederborg’s hometown of Copenhagen, but they don’t bring the various pieces assembled here into a compelling whole.
An odd assemblage of short writings.