Synopses & Reviews
Meet the daughters of Franz Kafka, Mary Shelley, the Brothers Grimm, and Angela Carter. Fantastic Women assembles the work of eighteen inventive, insightful women authors who steep their narratives in a heady potion of surrealism and macabre black comedy. The results are wildly creative stories that capture the truth about human nature far more than much of the fiction (or, for that matter, the nonfiction) being written today. Why just women? More and more women writers are creating work that not only pushes the envelope but also folds realistic fiction into an origami dragon, transporting readers into worlds we've never seen before and digging deeper into the psychic bedrock than their male counterparts. So slip into a pocket universe, drive through a family's home, awake in the night to find you've become a deer, and dive into the ocean to join your mermaid mother. We can't imagine ever wanting to escape this spellbinding world, but if you must, best leave a trail of crumbs along your way.
"The term 'fantastic' describes stories in which things that couldn't or wouldn't occur in the normal world, do. While the stories in this collection, all originally published in the literary journal Tin House, meet that criterion, many of them feel more twee than fantastic or simply weird for weird's sake. Here, the often unnamed female protagonists experience unexplained, unexplainable events that leave them uncomfortable but oddly less miserable than you'd expect. The circumstances vary turning into a deer is not the same as being strung up in complicated ways by nameless barbecuing perpetrators is not the same as finding yourself in a very large stewpot yet the stories end up feeling curiously similar. It's not bad writing; it's strategic, an apparent desire to tap into fable, where characters are archetypes, anything can happen, and nothing is questioned, but with the exception of Lydia Millet's 'Snow White, Rose Red,' it feels flat. In contrast, the stories that work, Karen Russell's 'The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach,' Julia Elliott's 'The Wilds,' Gina Ochsner's 'Song of the Selkie,' and Stacey Richter's 'The Doll Awakens' create compellingly weird and weirdly compelling narratives by forcing believable, specific characters to grapple with the unexplainable. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Featuring work by some of the most exciting contemporary women writers in the United States, Fantastic Women comprises eighteen inventive, insightful narratives steeped in a heady potion of surrealism and macabre black comedy.
About the Author
Rob Spillman is editor of Tin House magazine and executive editor of Tin House Books. He was previously the monthly book columnist for Details magazine and is a contributor of book reviews and essays to Salon and Bookforum. He has written for the Baltimore Sun, the Boston Review, British GQ, Connoisseur, Details, Nerve, the New York Times Book Review, Premiere, Rolling Stone, Spin, Sports Illustrated, SPY, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Worth, among other magazines, newspapers, and online magazines. He has also worked for Random House, Vanity Fair, and the New Yorker.Joy Williams is the author of four novels-the most recent, The Quick and the Dead, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2001-and two earlier collections of stories, as well as Ill Nature, a book of essays that was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. Among her many honors are the Rea Award for the short story and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Key West, Florida, and Tucson, Arizona.