Monday, January 25, 2016

The Real Truth About The Unfinished World

Yesterday I had all day to write and I got absolutely nothing done beyond the basics, but I woke up this morning at 4:30 with this review ready to ooze out my fingers, so here we go with it. The Unfinished World: And Other Stories, by Amber Sparks, deserves one of those slaved-over reviews extracting every last little bit of goodness, but you don't wanna read that, and I don't have time to write that, so let's do this instead...

1. The stories vary wildly in length and breadth but they are without a doubt magically wonderful. And by magical I don't mean robed wizards and wands. No, no. Her writing weaves in oddities, folklore, little bits of obscure (to me) history. In short, they sent me Googling over and over again.

2. All of the plots are fairly twisted and out there, but Sparks' writing really grounds them into something beautiful and touching, fun, surprising.

3. She's like Aimee Bender, but better

This should give you a taste of what all that stuff up there really means. The stories themselves...you just have to know what some of them are about.

"The Men and Women Like Him": Cleaners, time travel professionals who pursue space pirates on their attempts to sanitize history. Sadly, letting the Holocaust happen is a must because if the space pirates managed to change all the bad stuff, we'd die from the complications. These are like the beat cops of time travel, and one of them is ready to go off the rails.

"The Cemetery for Lost Faces": Lonely siblings look for love and meaning in their respective crafts. She's a taxidermist, he's a sculptor, and together they live a quiet, detached life serving up tableaus to rich benefactors, until a deal goes wrong.

"The Unfinished World": A young boy survives a bear attack at the circus, but his brothers fear he came back from the brink not quite right. The boy himself feels as if he can never truly love because there's a drafty crevice where his heart should be. Furthermore, his family is in decline, he begins to lose those he loves, and ultimately his fate collides with a young girl whose own story rounds this one out. It's long, it's more involved than the others, and it's haunting.

It's killing me not to write about "The Fever Librarian," "Lizzie Borden Jazz Babies," "The Process of Human Decay." There may be some one-off short story reviews coming.

That's just a tongue taste of what Amber Sparks has to offer in this collection. Twisty, wackadoo stories are right up my street, and I didn't realize it, but she has another collection I'll be jumping into when I decide to buy books again: May We Shed These Human Bodies. I should probably also mention that this book is straight to paperback, so if you're like me and hate buying hardcovers for the bulk and the price tag, consider that a non-issue.

Finally, if you liked Mr. Splitfoot, READ THIS TOO! *Shoves it at you and runs away.

Liveright, January 25, 2015 (that's today!)
ISBN: 1631490907
Source: Received from the publisher for review consideration.

18 comments:

  1. Well, that's a resounding recommendation! I've been seeing this one around, but the stories seemed possibly too out there for my taste. But, maybe...we shall see!

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    1. It's hard to explain, but they're really emotionally grounded if that makes sense. Sometimes stories can seem flippant or too out there if they don't have some serious plot/character development, and I felt like most of these did really well in those areas.

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  2. Heh. Wrong account. Oops. lol

    Anyhoo. Last line cinched it. If it's as good as Mr. Splitfoot, well, I have to read it asap!

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    1. LOL, do itttt. Same sense of the weird and wonderful.

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  3. This sounds like exactly my taste. I love short stories with a bit of odd/weird thrown in, so yes, sign me up!

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    1. Definitely! I think these would thrill and delight you.

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  4. Well, since I read Mr. Splitfoot on your recommendation...hahaha! :)

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  5. Like Aimee Bender, but better?!?! SHut up!! I'm going to have to investigate these blasphemous words! ;)

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  6. I feel like I should have heard about this one haha, it sounds cool though!

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  7. Ahhh! Now I want to read it much more. I have the digital ARC and love my short stories. Maybe I'll just cheat on my other reads for a little bit....great review!

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  8. Well, this one looks different and interesting. I loved Mr. Splitfoot (just finished it last week), so maybe this one will be a pleasant surprise, too. I'll keep it tucked on the back burner for after I finish my capsule read.

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  9. This looks so fun! And YAY, paperback release. Those are so great.

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  10. These stories sound fantastic. On the list they go!

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  11. "She's like Aimee Bender, but better." Done.

    I'm off to request it from the library.

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  12. I keep thinking about picking this up and being put off by the taxidermy story. That makes me think this might be a bit too strange for me!

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  13. Lizzie Borden Jazz Babies? Say no more! *snatches book and runs away*

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  14. Alright, I am pretty excited to read this now!

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  15. God damn it, now I have to request this at the library. THANKS, ANDI.

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