Better Living Through Plastic Explosives

Overview

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...

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The Adopted Chinese Daughter's Rebellion

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
“Zsuzsi Gartner’s writing is dazzling, effortless, and clear as a bell. She’s able to crystallize a cultural moment in a way entirely her won that is both instantaneous and eternal. I couldn’t let go of it and read it all in one go.” - Douglas Coupland

“Gartner has outdone herself with Better Living Through Plastic Explosives. She will garner a fistful of award nominations, more than a few fireworks and maybe even some hang-up phone calls.” - Winnipeg Free Press

"Gartner’s sentences are … expansive, polished and dense with flecks and speckles of dark and light. She can go from sardonic to plangent, wry to heartfelt.” - The Globe and Mail

“Superb…. Gartner’s attentiveness to the artificial gives her prose a laser-like sharpness and precision.” - National Post

“What crazy, wonderful writing this is—hilarious, exuberant, apocalyptic, heart-stopping. Gartner sees all, dissects all, loves all. An absolutely irresistible collection.” - Barbara Gowdy

“Zsuzsi Gartner’s new collection of short stories is as smart, satiric, playful and wicked as her previously acclaimed and bestselling book, ALL THE ANXIOUS GIRLS ON EARTH.” - Janet Somerville

“[Better Living Through Plastic Explosives] shows the short story form at its savage best, each story capturing, with brilliant economy and grace, not only entire worlds but whole mindsets as they explode into eloquence. Gartner is one of the supreme noticers in contemporary fiction, and with this book she has produced a rare work of wisdom and laughter.” - 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize Jury

“[Gartner] drills into your brain with amazing images and a snappy delivery that verges on inciting mental whiplash. What a ride! … Gartner is fall-out-of-your-chair funny, but the hilarity has a splendid whack of asperity to it for a great combination. The 10 stories in this book are wonderfully various and humorously satirical … Her send-up of idiotic earnestness is so refreshing, I can’t wait for the next collection.” - Vancouver Sun

“With her second collection of short stories, Zsuzsi Gartner has delved far underground, taken its seismic measure, and returned to give us the report … Dark, sinister, scary? Yes, but Gartner’s skill in the telling is thrilling. I’m a new fan of Gartner. I really liked All the Anxious Girls on Earth … But in Better Living Though Plastic Explosives, Gartner goes darker, deeper, and funnier. Her new stories are more trenchant, more satirical, more surreal. At the same time, Gartner still manages to evoke great empathy for characters and their sad, sad lives. Reading this book, I despaired … But I also felt exhilarated, the same exhilaration I felt when first reading Vonnegut and Barthelme and, more recently, George Saunders.” - Winnipeg Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670066926
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Canada, Limited
  • Publication date: 11/27/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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