Whether she takes on evolution and modern manhood, international adoption, real estate, the movie industry, science and faith, art, or terrorism, Gartner fillets the righteous and the ridiculous with dexterity in equal, heartbreaking, and...
Whether she takes on evolution and modern manhood, international adoption, real estate, the movie industry, science and faith, art, or terrorism, Gartner fillets the righteous and the ridiculous with dexterity in equal, heartbreaking, and glorious measure.
Angels crash land, lovers speak IKEA, a mountain swallows tony West Coast properties, and a killer stalks the great motivational speakers of North America.
These stories ruthlessly expose our covert fears and fathomless desires and allow us to snort with laughter—while grieving at the grotesque world we’d live in if we all got what we wanted.
In the stories of Gartner’s dexterous second collection (after All the Anxious Girls on Earth), set in or near Vancouver, Canada, the author turns her clever eye on a certain type of upper-class person: the food-snobbing, eco-obsessive, million-dollar-real-estate-negotiating, self-help-seeking yuppie. Two stories feature the collective voices of a suburban cul-de-sac’s residents as they witness how new people change their behavior. In “Summer of the Flesh Eater,” the presence of a crass, low-class, meat-loving man whose truck decays in the front yard pulls the entire town down a Darwinian rabbit hole. And the white parents of “The Adopted Chinese Daughters’ Rebellion” impose archaic Chinese customs, such as foot-binding, on their young, adopted daughters. These stories exemplify one of Gartner’s strengths: her fiction walks an ice pond’s thin skim between sadness and satire. Both begin with a tug of depression, a foreshadowing lament, and then delve into the rigidity of people’s “progressive” beliefs. The stories do not languish here, but rollick into the depths of dark humor and absurdity. Gartner’s themes are topical but never preachy, and she accents the ambiguities found in black-and-white arguments. Gartner delights in a little DeLilloesque postmodern trickery, imbuing new life and meaning to the everyday. It’s a sharp voice in this collection. Handle carefully. Agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists. (Dec.)
Zsuzsi Gartner is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling story collection All the Anxious Girls on Earth and the editor of Darwin's Bastard's: Astounding Tales from Tomorrow. She is the winner of a 2007 National Magazine Award for Fiction and the recipient of numerous awards for her magazine journalism. In 2011 her short story collection, Better Living Through Plastic Explosives, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, alongside literary giant Michael Ondaatje.