I cannot remember when last I took so much pleasure from a short-story collection. Expect the unexpected: flying rooms, mustard reviews, book timeshare plans, the sense of beauty, or a talking baboon.
The life of Worm & other misconceptions by Ken Barris offers a beautiful range of tone. Readers might be relieved to learn that “there are many ways to cook a pterodactyl”, even if you find yourself in a flying room like the narrator of Atmosphere. Two long-term friends hike the Klipspringer Trail in Puff adder. Although there is nothing funny about the outcome of the story, I loved the dry humour of its unfolding. In the allegorical Cat got your tongue, guilt and unspeakable acts are articulated in silence and gestures.
The collection opens with a piece about writing itself. The narrator of To see the mountain attends a writing workshop. He is struggling to write. Patience, one of the other workshop participants, tackles the serious issue of patriarchy in her work. They both attempt to see the mist-veiled mountain from the place where they are staying. Each writer has a unique strategy for how to accomplish the task. For the narrator, the act of imaging the local geography and a hike up the mountain are enough to unlock his creativity. Patience channels her energies differently…
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