This was such a strange little collection of short stories. All of them started right off in the midst of strange locations or strange cultures, and you had to just figure things out as you went along. And by the time you did, the strange, disturbing little story was over. Everything was very dark and mysterious, and I was sure if I was supposed to like or loathe the protagonists. A little of both. The theme was about tapping into those dark places that everyone has, that you don’t want to quite admit to harboring inside you.
Short stories are interesting, because it seems like authors can sometimes play more with really strange stuff — ideas that would be hard to maintain for an entire novel (in one, the protagonist is an elephant, communicating telepathically with his fellow elephants as they take off in search of their lost keeper). The imagination on display in all of these stories is what fascinates me, and makes me despair, yet again, for seeming to have so little imagination of my own to come up with something unique.
Lanagan is an Australian author, and the other-ness of the little bits of worlds she has created in these short stories is a wonderful change of pace from all of the recent books about New York City.
Her book, Tender Morsels shows up in the 2009 list of honor books, and I’m looking forward to that, as well.