The farther away the sun, the more unholy the spirits.
When angels make an appearance in literary fiction, they tend to be either ethereal and symbolic or wretched and questing. In her endearingly weird debut story collection, novelist O’Neill (The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, 2014, etc.) offers up celestial creatures who don’t fall neatly into either camp—they chain-smoke, they pass out business cards, they’re even “sleazy and ridiculous.” If you’re enticed by this idea, O’Neill’s dark fairy tales will be right up your alley. She takes the classic trope of a lost soul in search of salvation and gives it a parade of original twists: a Gypsy, himself the product of a child’s imagination, has an existential crisis in a whorehouse; a pair of Canadian twins discover their muse on a deserted island; a group of damaged dolls at a rummage sale crave unconditional love but recognize its limitations. The author has contributed to This American Life, and it’s easy to imagine her slice-of-surreal-life stories coming through the radio in dulcet tones, the narrator sounding a shade surprised by each reveal. O’Neill’s angels are like the unhinged couple at a cocktail party—they can’t stop fighting and making out, and we definitely can’t look away.
Keep this collection on the nightstand, and you’ll be sure to kick your dreamscape up a notch.