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Winner of the 2010 Drue Heinz Literature Prize
The Physics of Imaginary Objects, in fifteen stories and a novella, offers a very different kind of short fiction, blending story with verse to evoke fantasy, allegory, metaphor, love, body, mind, and nearly every sensory perception. Weaving in and out of the space that connects life and death in mysterious ways, these texts use carefully honed language that suggests a newfound spirituality....
Winner of the 2010 Drue Heinz Literature Prize
The Physics of Imaginary Objects, in fifteen stories and a novella, offers a very different kind of short fiction, blending story with verse to evoke fantasy, allegory, metaphor, love, body, mind, and nearly every sensory perception. Weaving in and out of the space that connects life and death in mysterious ways, these texts use carefully honed language that suggests a newfound spirituality.
“Hall’s pungent writing breaks down walls between poetry and prose, narrator and reader, humor and horror. These stories, a daunting cross between Rikki Ducornet and early Jayne Anne Phillips, reveal the author’s fascination with life and death, the confusion of hunger with other needs, and the bureaucratic tyranny of forms: sonnets and novellas, chapters and verses.”
—Los Angeles Times
“It looks like prose to the eye, but it’s memorable for the beauty and rhythm of the language, and it longs to be read aloud. . . Some stories in the collection have a traditional structure, but their magic is still in the poetry.“
“[Hall] marries plot to the beauty of her prose—but her priorities are lyricism first, narrative second. She’s concerned with relationships, the hidden lives of objects, and the death of beauty. She’s concerned with those tiny, everyday moments that reverberate throughout our lives, a beacon of otherworldliness in an ordinary world.”
“One of the most breathtaking books you will read this year. The stories are dense and elegant and oftentimes strange but always engaging.Hall is a master sentence crafter. She put words together in really complex, beautiful ways.”. . . As I read each story I was left with a profound sense of awe for the intelligence and grace with which this collection was written.”
“Occasionally you stumble across a piece of literary fiction so eloquent in its style, honest in its material, and direct in its approach that it resonates with you days, weeks, years after you read it. ‘The Physics of Imaginary Objects’ is one of these intelligent, enlightening, and brazen books that you’ll want to place on your shelf at eye-level so you will remember to keep picking it up. Hall’s poetic style and articulate precision give this book a revolutionary quality. It nudges you along with an air of solemn importance and modest wisdom. Expertly composed and awesomely beautiful, Hall’s hybrid of poetry and prose is neither sparse nor excessive, sentimental nor detached, diffident nor ostentatious.”
Erratum: Insert "R" in "Transgressors" 13
Skinny Girls' Constitution and Bylaws 18
For Dear Pearl, Who Drowned 30
Faith Is Three Parts Formaldehyde, One Part Ethyl Alcohol 36
Last Night of the County Fair 42
A Crown of Sonnets Dedicated to Long-Gone Love 43
By the Gleam of Her Teeth She Will Light the Path Before Her 51
In Your Endeavors, You May Feel My Ghostly Presence 64
The Woman Who Fell in Love with a Meteorologist and Stopped the Rain 71
This Is a Love Story, Too 76
How to Remember a Bird 80
There Is a Factory in Sierra Vista Where Jesus Is Resurrected Every Hour in Hot Plastic and the Stench of Chicken 86
All the Day's Sad Stories: A Novella 97
(The review was originally written by Richard Thomas for The Nervous Breakdown, October 2010)
As it often is with new voices, it all starts with a dull buzz, and the sense of serendipity. Something allows the title or the subject matter or the quality of the prose to break through the daily clutter, the onslaught of suggestions and advertising, to sit with you, to hold your hand and not let go. That is the case with this powerful collection of fiction, The Physics of Imaginary Objects by Tina May Hall. For me, it started with early adopters, people like Dan Wickett at Dzanc Books and the Emerging Writers Network, and Roxane Gay at PANK. By the time I saw the cover, and tracked down a story online to get a taste of the voice, I was nearly sold. After reading "When Praying to a Saint, Include Something Up Her Alley" at her website (originally published in Black Warrior Review) I was in. All in. So very much invested. And a little bit scared.
JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER.
Long before I got my copy in the mail, I stared at the cover of this book. It was an early clue of what to expect. Throughout these fifteen stories and one novella, there is a constant sense that things may go wrong, that they will definitely go wrong, and that the paranoia you feel as a reader is not a lie, it is not a misinterpretation, there is indeed something happening, something dark, and uncomfortable. The image on the cover is of a mirror, propped up on a structure, black fabric draped over the hidden form, with the tops of pine trees reflected in it, a wire running down the front, off into the dead branches and out of sight. I have always had issues with mirrors. Mirrors and shadows, the things you catch at the edge of your vision. You turn, and there is nothing there. But was there? There is a sense in that cover art that something is happening just out of sight, the wire, it makes no sense, the table and the mirror out in the forest, you can almost feel the presence of someone (or some thing) standing just out of the shot. It is a feeling that came back to me many times while reading these stories.
CLUES THAT THIS IS GOING TO BE GOOD.
It was the winner of the 2010 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Included, is "All The Day's Sad Stories", the winner of the 2008 Caketrain Chapbook Competition, selected by Brian Evenson. Black Warrior Review. The Collagist. Etc.
(...to continue this review, visit The Nervous Breakdown)
Posted September 6, 2014
No text was provided for this review.