Dark...err...horse, right here! Incendiary Girls, by Kodi Scheer, is a book I'd never heard of until my good buddy Bookfoolery tapped me on the shoulder and said I'd like this collection of stories. Boy, was she right on!
Incendiary Girls explores our baser instincts with vivid imagination and humor. In these stories, our bodies become strange and unfamiliar terrain, a medium for transformation. In “Fundamental Laws of Nature,” a doctor considers her legacy, both good and bad, when she discovers that her mother has been reincarnated as a thoroughbred mare. In the title story, a mischievous angel chronicles the remarkable life of a girl just beyond death’s reach. In Scheer’s hands, empathy and attachment are illuminated by the absurdity of life. When our bodies betray us, when we begin to feel our minds slip, how much can we embrace without going insane? How much can we detach ourselves before losing our humanity? Scheer’s stories grapple with these questions in each throbbing, choking, heartbreaking moment. (via Goodreads)
The blurb at Goodreads was just too good not to rip off. I mean, really, these stories are very thinky and thematic and odd and out there. It's what Scheer does with the oddities that really illuminates this collection. To say a collection is about "our body becoming alien" sounds sort of ridiculous and pretentious, but it's absolutely true. Even if you're never grappled with issues as serious as cancer or military deployment or any of the other struggles in this collection, maybe your body felt alien to you if you hurt yourself or you've dealt with an illness that made you feel a bit betrayed or alien in your own skin. That's what Scheer achieves in this collection, and it's remarkable.
My favorite story was called "No Monsters Here," in which a woman, who happens to have OCD and a husband who is deployed to the middle east, begins to find pieces of her husband's body around the house, beginning with an ear in the laundry hamper. It's not as grisly as it sounds...no blood or gore, just pieces of him. The secondary struggle in this story is the woman's OCD and whether or not to leave the comfort of her rituals which she feels safeguard her family, and let those habits go. It's an odd pairing, but the oddness of it really illuminates the struggle.
Incendiary Girls is what I want when I read "odd" fiction. The weirdness doesn't exist for its own sake, but helps critique and expand upon everyday situations and struggles...both internal and external.
Pub. Date: April 2014
Publisher: New Harvest
Source: From Bookfoolery!