SUPER FLAT TIMES by Matthew Derby


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Fearlessly wild and weird debut brain fragments from the mind of Derby, creative futurologist.

Derby’s 20 dandies have appeared in such deliriously sophisticated journals as Failbetter, Fence, Pindeldyboz, 3rd Bed, and 5 Trope, not to mention Conjunctions and American Journal of Print, some of which are online literary pit stops wherein Derby has gathered emotionally hyperbolic fans by the dozens who delight in heavy-water stories and in sucking the creamsicle of death. Heavy-water stories sink to the bottom and allow lighter works to rise and shimmer. After all, these were the Super Flat Times—“years that did not seem to pass so much as inflate crazily almost to the bursting point, break, and collapse, withered and damp, only to be replaced by another weepy, indistinguishable abrasion. That we survived at all is a monument in itself, but we will soon pass, and the parks, too, will gradually lose their meaning, as each successive generation of children wears the concrete structures down to pillowy stumps with their play.” Here are field-tested fragments from the store in the Hall of Memories describing the whole history of the Super Flat Times, collected especially for those who have been fortunate enough to have that whole history “swept from your head by the memory surgeons, so that all you remember is sitting up in the expansive Recovery Hall on Liberation Day with a bandage on your forehead and a sick taste in your mouth . . . ” We’re dragging the Sound Gun by hand. It has four settings: Make Scared. Hurt. Very Hurt. And Make Dead, which ruptures the enemy’s bowels. After the Food Ban we eat only meat from the Meat Tower. Even apples, corn, chocolate are prepared from various cured meats. The fortune cookie with my Chinese meal says only “Sorry.”

Artful social parody in a towering hypercontemporary mode, superbly scored for a chorus of wind-up cuckoos bleakly coming unwound.

Pub Date: May 5th, 2003
ISBN: 0-316-73857-3
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Back Bay/Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2003