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CARTOONS

A fantastic assortment of tall tales that look for little miracles in the mundane.

A kaleidoscope of microfictions about small things with big feelings.

Opening with a love note to a cockroach and interspersed with black-and-white illustrations, this collection by author and illustrator Schluter is a showy, whimsical cacophony of delights and grotesqueries. In the opener, “30th Birthday Story,” the author is confronted with three versions of himself at different ages, while a decidedly different joke is played on another doppelgänger in “Imaginary Children.” English majors will have fun with the literary humor in “Example of a Plotline” and “Parable of the Very Narrative Structure at Play in this Parable,” as well as the unexpected surprise of “The Radio,” which simply…fades away. There’s almost a fairy-tale quality to characters like The Girl Who Is a Piece of Paper, in “A Story Narrated by the Boy Who Collects Flies on His Face,” and The Widow Who Had Never Been in Love in “The Long-Term Relationship.” Misunderstandings abound, from a heated argument with a dog in “Civil Discourse,” to the unfulfilled potential in “Parable of the Perfect Translator.” There’s also a whole bunch of anthropomorphizing, for readers who dug David Sedaris’ Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (2010). The narrator must first address the concerns of his appliances in “Handwritten Account of an Afternoon Spent Talking with the Microwave,” before introducing a cast in “While the Two Slugs Take Turns Drinking Shots of Vodka” that includes a drunk, a poet, and a raccoon in a doctor’s coat in a few of its speaking roles. Finally, for Monty Python fans, two stories with parrots—“Everyone Has Dreams They Have To Hide From the State” and “The Long-Term Relationship.” In short, a little bit of everything, from the unexpected intimacy at play in “Walking Along the Avenue of the Suicides, the Cockroach” to the sweetness of “The Clairvoyant Mother.”

A fantastic assortment of tall tales that look for little miracles in the mundane.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9780872869288

Page Count: 136

Publisher: City Lights

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z(2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE MINISTRY OF TIME

This rip-roaring romp pivots between past and present and posits the future-altering power of love, hope, and forgiveness.

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A time-toying spy romance that’s truly a thriller.

In the author’s note following the moving conclusion of her gripping, gleefully delicious debut novel, Bradley explains how she gathered historical facts about Lt. Graham Gore, a real-life Victorian naval officer and polar explorer, then “extrapolated a great deal” about him to come up with one of her main characters, a curly-haired, chain-smoking, devastatingly charming dreamboat who has been transported through time. Having also found inspiration in the sole extant daguerreotype of Gore, showing him to have been “a very attractive man,” Bradley wrote the earliest draft of the book for a cluster of friends who were similarly passionate about polar explorers. Her finished novel—taut, artfully unspooled, and vividly written—retains the kind of insouciant joy and intimacy you might expect from a book with those origins. It’s also breathtakingly sexy. The time-toggling plot focuses on the plight of a British civil servant who takes a high-paying job on a secret mission, working as a “bridge” to help time-traveling “expats” resettle in 21st-century London—and who falls hard for her charge, the aforementioned Commander Gore. Drama, intrigue, and romance ensue. And while this quasi-futuristic tale of time and tenderness never seems to take itself too seriously, it also offers a meaningful, nuanced perspective on the challenges we face, the choices we make, and the way we live and love today.

This rip-roaring romp pivots between past and present and posits the future-altering power of love, hope, and forgiveness.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781668045145

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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