A vibrant collection of 15 thematically linked stories shaped by surrealism, narratives seemingly reflected in a fun-house mirror.
Many of these stories seem only one step away from normalcy, but that’s a step made into a strained, twisted reality. An example comes in "Kansas," in which the state is personified as a woman, dismissive of the “arrogant coasts" and plagued by a Colorado who insists on being called “Co-co." Other stories might be called fairy tales—“The Grift of the Magpie”—shape-shifted into adult fare. Bricks of language, syntax, and wordplay build narratives that lure readers into entering a bizarro world: for instance, meet “Guillaume, the mysophobic pig, who suffered from painful hoof bunions due to ill-fitting galoshes.” These blocks of wordplay grow and combine and multiply to become metaphor or parable or flights of fancy. How else to find “great stage potential” in the Tom Thumbery of L’Enfant du Paradis? In a fablelike story, God boots Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, leaving them “awaiting a radioactive salvation.” And then sometimes individual words are piled up or shoved together in wispy, allusive sentences meant to reveal character or motivation: “Indeed it was the very finger girdle of wedlock she had so long admired in the lint-smithy’s window!”; or a fairy tale is warped into a new truth as in “The Girl, the Wolf, the Crone.” This is not a book to be read in one sitting. Some stories are obscure. Some read like prose poems. All are worth appreciation.
Wells is a writer like no other. Prepare for magic allusive and illusive, intelligent and innovative.