From my prejudiced POV, this wicked little atom of a collection is the perfect remedy for anyone, like myself, who sometimes suffers from the very stale beer of American realism. That sort of placid realism, which as Lionel Trilling has observed, doesn’t think of our ideas as part of reality…consigning our fantasy lives to some netherworld…banning our interior dreams and nightmares from the sacred precincts of fiction.
I’d say I shopliftabout 75% of the books I read. I can run surprisingly fast for a tall person. But, when I actually do buy a book, I try to hit The Ivy Bookstore—which, for those who don’t know, is a great indie bookstore in Baltimore. My two year old single-handedly destroys their children’s book department every time she’s there.
It’s brilliant sleight-of-hand by Gardam who keeps her fictional cake while eating it. She has a character who’s a social misfit, impractical for all her vaunted practicality and self-reliance, but still makes her a daughter-in-law via role playing. And it’s not unkind, it’s one the the many surreal but touching scenes in the book. It seems to scream, man, this is weird, only no one says it is, which is ideal.
Imagine that forming a home library was a kind of horticulture. Imagine books without writers. Here’s how it might work: You lay out for yourself a fine selection of bookshelves in a sunny room. You water the shelves appropriately and then leave time for the books to germinate and start to grow on their own! If you had a fine basement library like my good friend JC, then you could grow books like mushrooms, direct from the fungus!
Gopi checks out some books from the library and decides that he is going to be a doctor that specializes in women’s troubles. It’s hilariously ambitious, and can only lead to catastrophy. Gopi easily fools his wife, and she thinks the books he is reading are his solution to their inability to have children. Gopi is fooling people without trying. He occupies a small office that was once housed vertrinarian’s office.
The finalists for this year’s Story Prize are The Angel Esmeralda by Don DeLillo (Scribner), We Others by Steven Millhauser (Knopf), and Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman (Lookout Books). The Story Prize, which annually honors the top book of short fiction, chose the three finalists from a field of 92 books from 60 different publishers. The judges for this year’s prize are Sherman Alexie, Breon Mitchell, and Louise Steinman.