Super Flat Times: Stories

Super Flat Times: Stories

5.0 1
by Matthew Derby

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With a heightened sense of the boundless possibility and lurking doom that Orwell and Huxley once envisioned, Matthew Derby's stories provide a glimpse into an intricately imagined world: a world in which clouds are treated with behavioral serum, children are handicapped by their ability to float, and all food (including Popsicles) is made of meat.  See more details below


With a heightened sense of the boundless possibility and lurking doom that Orwell and Huxley once envisioned, Matthew Derby's stories provide a glimpse into an intricately imagined world: a world in which clouds are treated with behavioral serum, children are handicapped by their ability to float, and all food (including Popsicles) is made of meat.

Editorial Reviews

...a lofty achievement that combines unexpected humor and brilliant language.
Joanna Scott
...a hilarious, horrific, fascinating world...the resemblance to our own is as artful as it is unnerving.
author of Make Believe and Tourmaline
David Bowman
Matthew Derby’s prose is Raymond Carver cadences crossed with the vision of a Philip K. Dick...Long live this literary American lynx.
author of Let the Dog Drive and Bunny Modern
Ben Marcus
...a wagon circle around everything dull and earthbound in American fiction...shimmering with broken robots and strange machines...a vital and astonishing writer
author of The Age of Wire and String and Notable American Women
Judy Budnitz
Matthew Derby's writing is a refreshing shock to the system. Read it and be entranced, enchanted, transported. He is truly one of a kind.
author of If I Told You Once and Flying Leap
The Washington Post
Some of the concepts are breathtaking. So is much of the writing in this surreal mosaic made up of fragmented lives and broken hopes. — Kit Reed
Kirkus Reviews
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 curedmeats. 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. Agent: Matthew Miele/John Hawkins & Associates

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Product Details

Hachette Book Group
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.48(d)

Read an Excerpt

Super Flat Times

By Matthew Derby

Little, Brown and Company

Copyright © 2003 Matthew Derby
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0316738573

Chapter One


My stepfather was among the first to go. Days after he disappeared, we found his wig on the front porch. Whoever had taken him away had brought the wig back. There were things about him that weren't even worth throwing away. My mother lifted the wig gently, as if it were a hurt animal, and brought it inside. For years no one spoke of his disappearance, and the wig remained on a table in the front hall. Then one day the wig was gone, and my brother found a small headstone in the garden, near a patch of freshly turned soil. He brought me back to show me the grave, and when he pointed at the tiny, misshapen stone he said only, "Get used to this," before heading out to the barn where he made meatloaf for the soldiers.

We hardly noticed the first Food Ban. There was a piece on the news about a cabbage virus, and then the cabbage stand was gone from the market. We were secretly relieved about the cabbage-no need to think up new ways to fix that particular item. It went this way with the other foods, until only meat was safe. Some people on our street held a small protest at the market, but then they were gone as well. We knew that something was wrong, that something essential was being hoisted from our grasp, but at the same time, meat was the one food we really liked to eat. An all-meat diet was something we'd been unconsciously looking forward to, like the cooling storm that breaks a heat wave.

Meanwhile, there was a boy in our school who had been held back a year because he was slow. When the new Recruitment Initiative went into effect, he found he was too old to get a good job. He kept asking his parents to make him younger. Every time they told him no. "That is not the direction you were meant to grow," they said, but he found a way to grow down anyway. He found a way to shed his age by eating pebbles and soaking himself in heavy water. One day he saw the hair on his leg start to retreat. "Now we're getting somewhere," he thought.

He got a job right away, one of the best available. In a month he was second-in-command at Corporation Two. He bought a high-speed boat, a rare poisonous snake, two rocket launchers, and a magnificent house for his parents. Every night he ate dinner with them at a long wooden table, punctuating the deep silence only to ask mockingly if they would let him grow younger. They only bowed their heads, shamefully forking around massive helpings of beef on gilded plates.


Excerpted from Super Flat Times by Matthew Derby Copyright © 2003 by Matthew Derby
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Super Flat Times 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago